Suddenly a couple of weeks ago, I started having thoughts about bell jars and not the Sylvia Plath kind.

Plath’s character Esther in the Bell Jar experienced her madness as “an airless jar that distorts her perspective on the world and prevents her from connecting with the people around her”.

Although I understand and have had that experience of isolation myself, this time the image of the bell jar is a self contained place of quiet and comfort. Deliberately stepping away from the outside world to, reflect, to gather up, to heal.

I am blessed with a fabulous home, a marvelous landlord and the ideal roommate. It sits in the heart of the beautiful North End of Boise, Idaho. Truly idyllic neighborhood. Close to downtown, to everything I need. During the summer I rarely drive my car, but am on my bike or on foot.

I have a porch surrounded with tall trees and an expanse of sky. A dogwood tree that when I catch it out of the corner of my eye fools me into thinking it is snowing. Bird song, the chattering shenanigans of squirrels, the ringing of the wind chimes, the scents of flowers, trees and freshly mown grass.

I now understand Emily Dickinson in a way I never contemplated before. If your eyes are open, what is right in front of you and in your consciousness is more than enough to be endlessly engaged, enthralled and moved. Why go out?

There was a day last week a couple of days after the first chemo when I was leaden and stalling out and I spent 7 hours on the futon on the porch. It rained gently, winds blowing softly and then gale force sending blossoms spinning. Blue skies punching through clouds, the color contrast knob dialing up on the entire scene with God light and then turned down to mute. I was entranced, wanting nothing. Utterly content.

Sitting still and watching the landscape around you kaleidoscopically shift and change. Never still. Never stagnant. Always in motion, no place to get to. Right now, right now, right now.


I read a lot. A couple of books in already. Some writing. I go for walks. Gentle yoga. Lots of sitting quietly and breathing, feeling my body dial down, cells killed off. When do you get to experience your own death and not die at the end? That is amazing. I am fully having this experience. I am paying very close attention. My body keeps loudly reminding me to be still. Be very, very still. I am listening,.

I am fully aware of what a gift it is that I can take this time. My expenses are minimal, no house or car payment. I don’t buy stuff. I live really well and very simply on very little. I have a tiny cushion to float me for a month and my lovely community is keeping me nourished. I am very, very lucky.

So I have stepped off of the carousel and I have no intention of stepping back on. Many new choices and priorities being made. I feel that this experience is about making me stop, listen, recommit to my well being on all levels, not get through this “horrible ordeal so that I can get back to my life”. Not backwards but forwards and my life is happening every moment between those two made up constructs.

Excuse me, but I need to get back to listening to the trees. My life depends on it.