Everywhere I landed it was grey. In Melbourne, the massive A380 landed with such a bounce that someone on the plane screamed. In Wellington, the wind and rain were passing, but it wasn’t until this morning that the sun streamed through my bedroom window. Today my travel-weary bodyclock is bewildered. The air has the crisp scent of autumn (and it was autumn where I was yesterday), and I wore my winter coat to walk the dog, but the tulips are well past their prime and the ducklings paddle around after their mothers.

Now I’m home. It’s springtime in New Zealand, a strange jumble of long days and fierce winds. My pretty house is cold and empty—Michael is still away and Aidan is often with friends. The alone-time I wandered about Europe to escape has been waiting patiently for my return. The flowers sent by friends and relations when I was away were dead in their vases. The mail that had piled up was nearly all cancer related—notes from my surgeon chronicling my surgeries and lab results, an unpaid bill from one of my anaesthesiologists, a letter from the public health system welcoming back into the oncology department (an invitation one never wishes to receive).

And it’s not so bad. I baked Aidan his favourite cookies and we lounged around the table talking about Trump and high school and sky scrapers. I deep conditioned my hair. My little shaggy dog—who is comfortingly real—sits as close to me as he can. Melissa and I had tea in the greyness of yesterday afternoon and a walk in the sunshine of today. I am working on my new book, slowly, slowly.

And today, in the mail, I got a handwritten card from a far away friend with a copy of this poem, which made her smile because I teach about complexity:


Leza Lowitz

Insight is the gift

of seeing reality as it is.

Not as it was,

nor as we wish it to be

but just this,

just this,

just this.

Go ahead and complicate things

if you like.

When you figure them out

another complication

will surely arise.

Why not simplify?

If you have the good fortune and leisure

to spend so much time in your head,

when you get off your cushion,

why not go out and be useful?

In this way

without expectation or hope

without attachment or plans

stillness meets emptiness,

where wisdom arises.

There you’ll find the whole

and enter it

as it

enters you.

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