Thursday, August 15, 2013

On the Summit


One cannot stay on the summit forever -
One has to come down again.

So why bother in the first place? Just this.
What is above knows what is below -
But what is below does not know what is above.

One climbs, one sees -
One descends and sees no longer
But one has seen!

There is an art of conducting one’s self in
The lower regions by the memory of
What one saw higher up.

When one can no longer see,
One does at least still know.

Poem from ‘Mount Analogue’
RenĂ© Daumal (1908–1944)

Rene Daumal was a French spiritual surrealist writer and poet who was born in Boulzicourt, Ardennes, France in 1908. One can assume that when this poem was written he was relating to life in general and I find the first line to be profoundly moving, "One cannot stay on the summit forever."  This is not a sad statement because this brief poem gives us hope and confidence that what we saw and experienced on the summit and can no longer see is always with us.  Furthermore, this poem gives me the sense that there are many trips to the summit and descents as we travel through life.

Yesterday at yoga class, the instructor read this poem during the resting phase of our workout. Instantly, it struck a chord with me and my recent experiences with relapse and treatment and it somewhat changed the direction I was planning to travel in this new post.  It even changed the title which I had tentatively decided would be Unpredictable

The past seven months have been, at best, unpredictable.  There have been so many trips to the summit and descents to the valley and most with no predictability.  I never really know when I will be feeling well and enjoying the view from the summit or when I will be too tired to do much of anything but nap.  Over these months, I have had some very good days and if I didn't know better, I would think I was back in remission and feeling well or maybe I could even imagine that I had never been sick in the first place.  Along with these wonderful days, there have been a fair number of days of illness (shingles, colds, coughs) and then there were the low blood counts that caused me to miss treatments.  These missed treatments and my trip to Washington DC, which caused a gap in the cycles, allowed the lambda light chain to reverse its downward trend and go back up.  Fortunately, it has only gone up about 20 points.  

In all this unpredictability, there is one positive constant:  Velcade doesn't make me feel nauseous or sick at all.  However, it often makes me incredibly tired and head-achy. I do know and understand that being tired is a lot easier to cope with than being nauseated and I am grateful for that.  Another positive note is I won't lose my hair.

Now how does this all tie in with the poem with which I began this post?  As I listened to our instructor read the poem, I realized that when I am at the summit, I am collecting knowledge and memories for those times when I have descended back down the mountain.  No matter how tired I may be or worried or frightened about my future, I can "have the memory of what I saw higher up" and I still know that I can climb there again and I will. . . many times.  I can see that with clarity now. 

Finding Peace and Contentment in My Own Backyard

This summer has been one of the best ever in Western Washington State.  We have had many summers in the past that never seemed to quite materialize into the lazy, warm days that we all love and enjoy.   Well, this summer has been one to remember with warm sun, little rain and many hours of daylight.  Because of this lovely weather, I have been outside more and our backyard has never looked better.  Now, I must confess, neither Brent nor I are crazy about gardening or yard work and if you were to look too closely, you would probably see more than a few weeds.  We have lived in this house for 39 years and the yard has evolved more by happenstance than planning and much of the "borrowed scenery" beyond our yard is wild, but I love the natural beauty and privacy it affords.  It has been a great source of peace and contentment to me more than ever before.  
Enjoying the Morning Sun

"Borrowed Scenery"

Tomato Crop on the Porch

"Borrowed Scenery" Beyond the Hydrangea

 Evening Falls


  1. my dear carole leigh,

    what marvelous visualization you created to make that beautiful poem you very own truth. It shows how receptive you are to being comforted and desirous to live meaningfully, no matter which part of the mountain you are on. I am happy for you to have such inspiration and comfort, and am sure that many of your readers, including me, will adapt it for ourselves. thank you for sharing it with us.

    your home and gardens must give you and brent such happiness and delight, as you enjoy the full unfolding of this year's perfect summer beauty. the borrowed background scenery - how fortunate that is showcases all your lovely flowers and garden accessories. I much prefer a garden that just decides how it will settle in and gives us such sweet surprises each season. your photos are absolutely gorgeous!

    I am glad you do not suffer nausea or sickness with the velcade, and that in spite of a spate of illnesses, you have come back into feeling well again. I will be believing for you that the lambda light chain will get back into alignment - and STAY there. I, too, could do with a little more napping, so if that's what you have to do, just cozy up and have a sweet sleep for awhile. I promise, if you promise...

    sending much love and light, XOXOXOXO

    Karen, TC

    1. Dear Karen,
      I love your comment, "I much prefer a garden that just decides how it will settle in and gives us such sweet surprises each season." You have such a way with words! Our "borrowed scenery" has a number of trees that just volunteered to become part of our garden. In the corner, there is a giant wild cherry tree that sprouted and grew very quickly to its present stature and it chose the perfect spot to make a home. Sending you much love and light and keeping you in my prayers.
      Carole Leigh

  2. Carole Leigh - my thoughts echo much of what Karen has shared with you.

    You continue to inspire each of us with the way you handle the ups and downs of your journey.

    The Daumal poem is one we can each take to heart and combined with your thoughts I am greatly encouraged this day. Thank you!


    1. Dear Lynn,
      I hope the poem gives you comfort. You deserve that because you are such a great supporter who gives comfort so freely. I hope you will be able to come to our September meeting on Camano Island. Sending you my love and hugs,
      Carole Leigh

  3. Carole Leigh, my thoughts are with you! You have a beautiful back yard, and I can tell you sincerely appreciate what you have, even with its highs and lows. Take care. My prayers are with you. Pat

    1. Dear Pat,
      Thank you for reading my post and staying in touch. Seeing you every two years at convention just isn't enough!! Thank you for your prayers....
      Sending my love,
      Carole Leigh

  4. Hi Carole! love your beautiful pictures and your blogs are so helpful to me, as you are charting the out of remission course for me :) I think my next treatments will be similar to yours, and was happy to read that Velcade did not make you super sick and we still get to keep our hair! We have so many similarities in how we feel and deal with the MM monster! I experience the same unpredictability daily. We never know if we will have energy, feel well or could climb that summit! Sending you healing love and hugs! Julie

    1. Hi Julie,
      I guess you could call us the MM Twins! It is uncanny how similar our journeys have been. I see my oncologist tomorrow and begin my next cycle of velcade. I have been feeling so well on my week off that I kind of dread starting a new cycle and the fatigue that goes with it. Sending healing love and hugs back to you.
      Carole Leigh

  5. Such a beautiful blog with wonderful pics and thoughts you have shared here with us. I really like the way you have posted your blog. Thanks and keep sharing.