|Last fall, on a beautiful day with a touch of summer in the air, I was bike riding with a friend. She slipped into a pothole and crashed into me. We both had scrapes and bruises but I hit my head so I went to the ER just to make sure. I expected to be out quickly. Instead I found out,accidentally, that I had a walnut-sized malignant brain tumor.As rare as brain cancer is, mine was among the rarest. If I hadn’t gone to the ER, my prognosis would not be so favorable. There are almost no statistics about persons who discover this cancer so early. I could live a few years or until I am 90. And one thing I can’t stand is uncertainty. As a trauma therapist, I teach people to live in the moment, to ground themselves using mind/body techniques, and to learn to accept the unacceptable. Talk about humility. I couldn’t do it for myself and the harder I tried, the more I failed.
One day I woke up with what felt like a storm raging inside my head. I had to do something different. I took a walk in Rock Creek Park.
I sat under a tree and sobbed. I wanted to feel alive again and the park was the only place where I could see that births and deaths and resurrections really do occur. The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Life is only available in the present moment, and when we live in the present moment it is possible to live in true happiness.”
Sitting in Rock Creek, I understood this teaching somewhere deep in my soul, and suddenly everything made sense.
I decided to do the “365 Day Project.” Every day for one year, I would take a picture in Rock Creek. It seems simple enough. But through this project I have gradually found my way into seeing things differently, noticing details I would have never seen before. There is something about the park that changes every day even if you take the same route. Rock Creek is full of natural beauty, and for me, tranquility and healing.
I have had two brain surgeries, lost my hair, been through radiation, and take poison that will make me better if things go according to plan. In a strange way I have never been happier.
For years I had a plan for everything in my life. Today my plan is to breathe deeply, meditate, and take another photo in Rock Creek.
View Katie’s favorite photos of Rock Creek in all four seasons.
Note: As of December 10, 2011, Katie has taken 310 photos of Rock Creek!