Saturday, September 16, 2006

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0298 - Driving Away the Shadow of Cancer

One of my favourite activies is driving the car. Maybe it's because I couldn't drive for a long time after my cancer surgery. Maybe it's because when I could eventually drive again, I found it to be one of the most comfortable things that I could do. But I think there are other, equally important reasons why getting behind the wheel is such a pleasant activity.

We have a fairly nice car, a 2004 black Toyota Camry. It rides well, looks good, and is very dependable. It's a pleasure to own. So, just the nature of the vehicle itself gives me a certain amount of pleasure.

But I love to drive for other reasons which have nothing to do with the specific car I own. I enjoy the opportunity driving affords for maintaining relationships, especially one-on-one relationships with my wife or sons. Driving means taking time to talk about life, about what's happening and what's important in their lives, about my pet projects and opinions, or even just about the weather and what we see out the window.

I also love to drive without company, all alone with my thoughts or with some good audio material.

On my way to Barrie and back again to Kitchener on Thursday, I listened to CDs from the Integral Institute, specifically something from the Integral Life Practice Starter Kit called an introduction to the 3-2-1 Shadow-Work Process. The shadow is anything about ourselves that we unconsciously repress or deny.

Cancer, or the fear of cancer at least, is just about as close to the shadow as anything I can imagine. The 3-2-1 process is about shifting perspectives as a way to identify and integrate any shadow material in our lives. "3-2-1" refers to using 3rd-person, 2nd-person, and 1st-person perspectives, one after the other. To do so - first we Face It in 3rd-person, then we Talk To It in 2nd-person, and finally we Be It in 1st-person. In this way, we intentionally reverse the original process in which the shadow became unconscious and repressed.

Using cancer to illustrate, most of us facing a diagnosis disown the 1st-person awareness by pushing it outside of ourselves into a 2nd-person perspective. The experience is then one in which cancer is something outside myself. Cancer becomes a You that I hate and blame for my misfortune. If my rejection of cancer is especially intense, I go further and push it out entirely as a 3rd-person perspective , a total rejection. Cancer becomes an It, perhaps even a devil or wicked spirit.

I did all of this unconsciously. In fact, until I discovered the 3-2-1 Process, I would never say something like, "I have cancer" or "my cancer" (Leroy Sievers often puzzled me in this regard by calling his blog My Cancer; he's clearly a braver, more aware person than me).

But even though I didn't know about the 3-2-1- process, I happened to discover at least part of the process through writing a blog. Using the almost daily discipline of writing about cancer, I began to Face It. But I have never accidentally come up the 2nd-person and 1st-person aspects of the process. That is yet before me. To get there, I think I'll take a nice long drive in my car.

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