Excellent lovely people,
i am, or would like to call myself a documentarian. a noticer of things interesting, an asker of questions. I realize that many of you have found yourselves the subject of my scrutiny in the past and i’m looking forward to hearing all your secrets in the future. Sorry bout that. I’m nosy.
So now we have this Great Difficult Thing. And it is not a manifestation of my mind. It is a cellular reality. I saw it on TV during my bronchoscopy. I don’t usually believe everything i see on TV but this program was lent legitimacy by the fact that a man had a tube down my nose. The amnesia drug didn’t work. I remember it. I saw it. a something inside a tube. a tube for air not a tube for a something.
Anyhow, if i am an investigator of things, this is as interesting a thing as I ever did. And this is gonna happen, whether i want it to or not. And I might as well try to notice it. Scrutinize. Understand a little more of what it means to be alive when there is recognizable corporeal threat on the horizon. Already there are so many moments that feel valuable. Feel like i am understanding more about how absolutely beautiful and fun all this living stuff is. I have never eaten more delicious food or had more satisfying conversations with lovelier human beings. All this space and this playground of a planet. And these families that we belong to. I belong. Not just with you but to you. We are all integral.
And at the same time, it is my body. Not anyone else’s. I have noticed a very tricky aspect of this whole Great Difficult Thing; you have to get really good at holding contradictory ideas in your head all at once.
Idea A) It is necessary to think about death and to come to some peace with the prospect. To understand that none of us are getting out of this alive. And while this is not the time frame I had in mind, I could accept it. Because terror will not help me heal. I can do grief and anger and all that but I cannot use my heart while being terrorized. I am excited to explore the ideas of going home. Of beauty.
Idea 2) I have to reject death. Cling to life. Fortify my body, my white blood cells, with ferocity. With adamance that we live. That this is not the thing that will get us. Will not win.
Idea C) In order for the chemo to work it has to do damage to any cells doing any dividing. My white blood cells for instance are big dividers. Replenishers. My immune-fighting cells. So i have to tolerate damage to heal. Which doesn’t come up often in self-help books and so I wouldn’t recommend it be taken as a larger analogy on life.
Idea 4) There is the reality of pathology, and its insistence that this is dire. Cancer is a signifier in our modern age. Of being taken out of the stream of life and made to do battle. Sickening fear, tragedy and loss. And then there is the story i am trying to tell myself: No matter what, I want the meantime be a celebration. And to be interesting. To understand if i am who i thought i was. (so far yes!)
And to maintain my curiosity and learn more about love. I never knew what a broad field of study that was.
Even if i am self-deluded about the nature of the Great Difficult Thing. Why would i want to give my body and life over to the medical story? The deeply unfair story? (Actually, the deeply unfair story is sticking a little, but it’s on the list) The story where lung cancer lacks some almost redeeming qualities? All the secrets about cancer that no one wants you to know.
And maybe I am able to think this right now because chemo is still 3 days away. And maybe my belief in this “everything is beautiful” hippy crap will get a pummeling with some old fashioned nausea. But i hope not. That would be a tragedy. Maybe you can remind me later. And tell me secrets and gossip. All the good stuff. Thank you.
Love from val
(who is becoming much more learned on the topic)