This is a photo of my little mate, Archer.
He’s been fighting an aggressive form of paediatric cancer (bone cancer, I think – requiring his bone marrow to be destroyed by chemo and replaced with healthy marrow from a donor – his heroic younger brother).
He kinda got into the BIG WALK, and we started corresponding, I’d send him postcards from the road, from towns like Seal Rock.
In a way, I guess he was emblematic for me, more than just a great kid, but also a representation of one of the main reasons WHY I was walking.
A pilgrimage of personal healing – Yes. To help an important charity – Yes. But somehow Archer put a face on it all, for me.
Sometimes I’d be marching, tired & wet, but in my mind I’d have that old Hebrew proverb going over and over “Save but one life, and you save the World entire”. I guess for me, Archer personified that one life, although in reality the life I was saving was probably my own.
I’m delighted, absolutely delighted, to share (with his parent’s blessing) for the people following the walk, that Archer is out of ICU, where he’d been confined for more than 100 days. He’s in a halfway house near the hospital, and all going well, will be back in his own home imminently.
Although these past months, I’ve felt mostly fine, optimistic, happy, past the suffering and sorrow of my cancer, in reality, I think the truck was close to toppling over.
The healing I achieved on my walk, I got to bring home with me. The advances as a human being. I grew and I’m better and stronger.
But there’s underlying stuff, I don’t fully understand. Stressors, sorrow (I cried quite a bit when I watched the video of Archer unfurling his poster, but we’ll get to that).
So yeah – the poster – the image above. With the help of my mate (Barry!), I thought it might lift Archer’s spirits to have a poster done up. He’d been stuck in the hospital, tubes, into his body, confined indoors, for months. We’d had a video call and I saw how ‘over it’ he was. I wanted to try and lift him up.
But yeah, I think I needed that for myself, as well, and I think that doing a kind deed has been enough to shake me out out of the weird post-walk malaise.
I learned in the walk: Kindness is the antidote to sorrow.
Here’s the thing, I don’t actually think I’ve been sorrowful (despite crying like a baby watching Archer’s video, plus a short animation I watched on Netflix “if something happens i love you” about death and grief. It’s a bit more complicated than that. It’s like … I changed, but I’ve come back to my life, and the world hasn’t. I feel out of step. As Bruce Springsteen sang “My clothes don’t fit me no more, a thousand miles just to slip this skin“
I’ve been over-eating, over-resting, idling along in neutral, but thinking about it, it might be a GOOD thing.
I think that the BIG WALK was me as a caterpillar – born from grief and sorrow and hardship, I had to change. So I started inching my way forward. Rediscovering myself and the world. Learning lessons.
That would mean right now, I’m simply cocooning up. Literally (wrapping myself in weight as I do nothing and slothfully gorge) and figuratively (by withdrawing a little bit from the world, emotionally and physically.
Using that metaphor, what happens next ?