Originally published on the Palmetto Peloton Project's Ride to Austin blog site.
Here we are, just hours away from our departure. Like others, my bags are packed, the bike is ready (almost – have to mount my new tires), the bills are paid, the neighbor is going to keep an eye on my cats and my house. There isn’t much left for me to do before I head over to meet everyone at the Cancer Center.
I am amazed at the journey the peeps of P3C3 have taken me on so far and I am excited and scared about where this journey is going to take me next. Already I am an emotional mess. I’m afraid of how these emotions are going to be exposed over the course of the next week. But I’m excited because this is the type of journey of which I am in need.
It is never easy to put myself outside of my comfort zone, but some things I can handle better than others. Being outside of my physical comfort zone (pick an extreme adventure sport or activity) will always surge the adrenaline, but I know how that feels. I know what to expect and I know how my body and mind will react to it.
It’s the emotional comfort zone I have never really ventured far beyond.
I don’t know what compassion is really supposed to feel like. I don’t know the real meaning of pain or suffering. I thought pain was humping a rucksack through the mountains or swamps (or both) for days and nights on end.
I think I’m starting to get it. Talking with a survivor the other day I could see the pain and suffering in her eyes as she described to me what she went through during her diagnosis and treatment. There were emotions rushing around in me that I’m not completely familiar with. I was uncomfortable with these emotions, but I tried to grasp what effect they were having on my mind and body.
This is how I’m going to learn about these emotions – the same way I learned to deal with the physical and emotional sensations that had once lain beyond my physical comfort zone: Repeated exposure.
This terrifies me.