A month ago, Rumble founder Paul flew to Germany with his brother (who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer) in search of healing. This is his latest dispatch. Find the full story on Paul's personal health and wellness blog - The Rumble Life.
I am writing this on the plane returning home from Germany, with REM’s Man on the Moon playing in my headphones as I glance down on distant landscapes and occasional clouds far below. I’m of course glad to be returning, yet also strangely melancholy as I look back on this brotherly healing and bonding adventure.
Living on opposite coasts of Canada doesn’t give us a lot of time to hang out - this was our first time living under the same roof since I was 12 years old! So it was a real privilege to connect like this with by brother, and I will miss him.
Reflecting on all that my brother and I have experienced and learned over the last month, there are some highlights I will take with me, but while it’s fresh here are what I think were the most healing elements:
1. Time in Nature
Every day, we spent at least an hour outside, and most days we got much more. From ‘forest bathing’ to our hikes, walks and rides, we soaked up the good weather and felt charged by the sun.
As my brother is a beginner meditator, we chose an app-based approach and did the 28-day “Waking Up” intro course by Sam Harris. At just 10 minutes per day, it was a great introduction that is largely based on simple, guided mindfulness instruction. We enjoyed it so much we’ve agreed to maintain the daily meditation for October.
3. Joyful movement
Sometimes we can of think of exercise as a necessary ‘to do’ rather than an invitation to find joy. But at Arcadia, we were able to tune into what called most in the moment – a hike in the forest, qigong in the park, exploring on the e-bikes or a simple stroll into the village. Combining exercise with what gives most pleasure seemed to maximize my brother’s healing mindset, and reframed an obligation into an opportunity.
4. Eating clean
I eat fairly well already, but this moved it up a notch for me and to a whole new level for my brother. It was a month with low carb, organic only food, and more salads, greens and vegetables than we have ever eaten! We were also completely gluten and dairy free, with no sugar - it was a chance to see if we would feel differently.
I actually didn’t notice any improvement (perhaps as I already eat well), but my brother’s energy level was so much better that we believe the clean nutrition was a big part of it.
With so much emphasis on helping patients survive longer, it’s easy to lose sight of what we are living for. Not much point in simply surviving, if life is going to be devoid of pleasure!
On that note, this was probably our most healing day - not one that was full of treatments, but a cycling trip into the nearby town Fritzlar on the e-bikes we rented. We enjoyed the afternoon in the main square, sitting in the warm sun, drinking a cold beer and listening to a harp player as families strolled by.
Later, with an incredibly warm wind at our backs and the sun casting long shadows on the fields around us, my brother flew ahead of me downhill on the bike path doing well over 50 km/h. As I caught up to him, he turns to me grinning and shouts, “I’m alive! I could die tomorrow, but if so at least I can say I truly lived!” We shared a spontaneous, deep laugh at our good fortune, perhaps an odd thing to do given the broader context of how we found ourselves here, but profoundly grateful nonetheless. Smiles plastered to our faces, we rode back to the clinic with awe at the beauty around us.
As we integrate back into our regular lives, we have challenged ourselves to maintain each of these elements to maximize the healing in the weeks to come. It will be harder separated by thousands of miles, but we have some great memories to cherish and motivation to make more in years to come.