Guano Hit the Fan

“Where there is much light, the shadow is deep.”  … - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wherever you go, there you are.”  …Unknown

For the first time since I was diagnosed with cancer our family took a vacation.  We packed our bags, lubed the car and trekked across the desert to Arizona; our first stop, Phoenix to visit the family for the holidays.  After lots of Christmas cookies, old friends, music jam sessions and a visit from Santa, we packed up our gifts, said our goodbyes and headed two hours south to Tucson. Since Riley and Casey are soon to be university bound, we wanted to show them our alma mater, The Universtiy of Arizona, and the place Kevin and I first met 26 years ago. 

We had a blast.  I not only reconnected with my family, I reconnected to the desert and to my core.  Tucson is truly a spiritual place.

We saw two hundred year old giants in Saguaro National Park, met mountain lions and javalina, went horseback riding with a real cowboy, re-lived the shootout at the OK corral, hung out by the pool with fair skinned snowbirds, ate pollo smothered in Mole and went spelunking at Kartchner Caverns, an absolutely stunning limestone cave hidden in the desert.


Formed by 85,000 years of dripping water, the cave is one of the wonders of the world with its incredible calcite formations; stalagmites and stalactites, some reaching from the floor to the ceiling.  It is also home to hundreds of bats.  And where there are bats, there is guano, lots of guano.  That is bat shit in lay men terms.

There is no escaping guano.  Even in the most wondrous of places. 

But, where there is guano, there is life; rich, abundant life.  Fungi and bacteria, along with other life forms like cave crickets and gross little white blind bugs thrive in these caves all because of this organic material.  It is essential for growth, development and expansion; in other words, without guano, no ugly blind bugs, without shit, no life.

We have all experienced our fair share of shit in our lives.  It will come and go like the monsoons of Arizona.  And, just when there is a clearing and all is good, shit happens again.  We are all living proof of this life cycle.

The week before Christmas, guano hit the fan in the Brown household, a full out monsoon.  I had to go in for an emergency mini D and C after days of non-stop bleeding and a biopsy to boot to make sure I did not have uterine cancer (Uterine cancer is one of the side effects of Tomaxifin), all while getting ready to go out of town for Christmas while Kevin was swamped with an 8 million page production.  He slept eight hours in five days.   I think I saw him for four of those hours and he was snoring.   

It was hell week, not unlike the week pledges face at the U of A before achieving full membership in their fraternity or sorority.  But, I did not crawl back into bed.  I did not run off to Mexico with a hot sexy surfer or join some cult where they promised to save my soul.  I did not light up or drown my sorrows in a bottle of vodka.  I admit I thought about it though.  Instead, I faced it head on and persevered.  It wasn’t easy.  I wept and moaned and howled at the moon but I did not give up.     

Many of our addictions and neurosis are our attempts to escape, to run from suffering, to run from ourselves.  But it is in this suffering, this shit that life deals us, this bat guano, that we grow and true meaning comes to light. 

James Hollis, my favorite Jungian psychologist and author writes, “there is no sun-lit meadow, no restful bower of easy sleep; there are rather swamplands of the soul where nature, intends that we live a good part of the journey, and from whence many of the most meaningful moments of our lives will derive.” 

James you are one rad dude, Carl Jung, brilliant.  T.S. Eliot embraced this understanding as well. 

We must be still and still moving

Into another intensity

For a further union, a deeper communion

Through the dark cold and the empty desolation

So, don’t run.  Don’t try to escape.  Stay.  Fight.  Howl at the moon if you must.  Do not be afraid to go spelunking into the deep cavernous places of your soul.  It is in these dark places that we meet ourselves.

Deanne meet Deanne.

5 Responses to “Guano Hit the Fan”

  1. Maureen Says:

    Deanne- So sorry about that horrible experience right before Christmas! How are you doing now? It sounds like the trip to Arizona was a spiritual one and so good for your soul! I wish you nothing but good health and happiness in 2012!
    xo Maureen

  2. Jacqui Murray Says:

    I love Arizona. We are looking for a place to retire and AZ is on the short list. See you mid-January at SOCC!

  3. Aunt Marilyn Says:

    Deanne, so sorry I didn’t get down to your Mom’s to see you for Christmas. You are such a strong
    lady and have been through so very much in the last couple years. Keep your Spirit high and your Faith intact Honey and you will overcome all the obstacles in life. It isn’t fair so many of the hard ones have fallen on you and your beautiful family. Uncle Sam and I love you very much.

  4. Charlotte Brooks Says:

    Hey Deanne, It was wonderful seeing you and the family on Christmas! So great that you all had an amazing vacation. Love you, Charlotte

  5. wabisabimami Says:

    ahhhh love it Deanne! “It is in these dark places that we meet ourselves.” Perfect :)

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