Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This is Hardly Routine

Things that I talk about on my blog are never intended for attack, but rather to encourage to do and be better, if for no other reason than because we see them as the things to do. My blog is, more often than not, simply a collection of observations because I’ve been put into a unique set of circumstances; my hope is that you see my ramblings as exactly that. What you do with them is, of course, up to you. To expect anything else would be hypocritical and extremely presumptuous on my part. And I hope you get a chuckle from time to time in spite of the underlying subject!

That said, I’m not the kind of person to ponder the philosophical underpinnings of what is.  If anything, I like to poke life in the eye a little bit, be a little flippant with that thing we call "perception," and try to be a bit self-deprecating somewhere along the way. It helps maintain some modicum of sanity for me in the midst of what seems like a buzz of chaotic reverberations of insanity and insensitivity – stuff I just cannot reconcile some days! Grant me a small indulgence and perhaps you’ll understand my meaning rather than seeing me as a touch pompous.  If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m being far from pretentious

While I've been hospitalized, I got this handy little personal hot spot that allows me Internet access for movies and other things to keep me connected, but the more I plug into the web, it’s easy to see that we are engaged in a constant war for what amounts to our souls. (To keep things simple, I'll use the word 'soul' to mean that part of us that is us - our personality, our likes and dislikes and so on). Some religious organizations have had that figured out from time immemorial, of course, and they make no bones about being on the forefront of those battles. I’d like to think at-heart, most faith-based organizations are a force for good, but the level of hypocrisy I see nowadays in so many lead me to the unavoidable conclusion that far too many of them are just players in the panoply of that war and unfortunately they have won inroads into souls of those who would rather allow themselves to be molded or have things spoon-fed to them. Thankfully, there are those that do encourage us to rise above mere conformity and really search out that which is true and really live there…and then keep ascending out of the morass that holds us from being our very best.

I’ve been at both the militantly against and the devoutly for ends of the religious scale, but at the ripe old age of 50, come to a place of simply trying to make a difference where  and when I can – sometimes that means working within a community of like-minded individuals and other times it means standing alone. The key is not being stridently idle…and for me, the struggle my entire life has been to find what this is called. There’s some inexplicable, intangible thing deep within all of us that wants to be part of something larger than ourselves. Is it any wonder we send so much money to charitable organizations and rally around people and communities in need? The needs out there just seem to multiply and at the those slick marketers keep the tragic glossy images in the forefront. They don’t care what you call yourself; they just want your money.

I think this kinda sez it all. The image is from Headline T-Shirts (buy yours here - I get no remuneration, but neither do I own the copyright)
My daughter’s father in-law is also an AML survivor and we obviously compare notes from time to time. He is someone I respect as having a gift for being brutally honest, but being so without being mean-spirited or judgmental. I was delighted to see an excerpt that encapsulated how I felt and wasn’t entirely surprised to see it posted today instead of yesterday when I was struggling to find a way to wrap up this post:

For most us twenty-first-century Western Christians, that is church. And nothing is wrong--and much is right--with all of it. But I can take it or leave it. More often, I prefer to leave it. All those elements together do not make a church. I'm fighting life-threatening cancer of the soul, and too often what we call church offers me a pain pill, religious distraction, false promises, encouragement to live in denial, or a facelift. I don't want to go."
At this risk of coming across as jaded, I want to reiterate that despite some clear frustration, I’m not trying to beat down organized religion or charitable organizations because again, emerging through some pretty obvious hypocrisy and mismanagement in the headlines, good really does happen. What I’m trying to divine, for lack of a better term, is where my new normal, my routine is now. You see, for someone who revels in having lots of projects running in concert, being hospitalized for nearly 90 days this calendar year has been extremely difficult. A temporarily-diminished brain capacity thanks to chemotherapy has been infuriating; constraints thanks to hospital room space and feeling sick from treatment have created a new frustration I could only sympathize with heretofore; but the same thing I knew from day one of this adventure haunts me even today - one cannot walk through crisis and not be changed. That change, though, is something that happens on the inside and like the message of this blog to you, to do anything further would be presumptuous…the next step is something perhaps something *I* have to initiate.

Things like ‘normal’ and ‘routine’ are just going to look different.  The epiphany is like something hidden in plain sight: I have to re-evaluate. I can’t imagine outright giving up some things that I really enjoyed, but neither can I continue it all.

When I got to thinking about it, ‘routine’ is just a series of habits and experiences? True, perhaps, from one perspective. I don’t know what I will feel right about giving my time and effort to at this point, but it’s clear that the ‘new normal’ will be just plain different, albeit with the same substance. I think the best way to explain it is that a layer of skin is being pulled away so that what you see of me is more of who I actually am rather than another well-indoctrinated member of the pop culture brigade. And I hope you become more of the authentically you as well. Working with people on that level is so rewarding and all the more when friendships are involved. Perhaps that’s what friendships are at their base.

But I will stop there because again I don’t ponder the great issues, and even though there may be some still waters running deep on my worn mug, I prefer to simply observe the obvious and get a good laugh from time to time…and I hope there are many, many years of laughter ahead that we share together, dear friend.

Be well, stay strong, and much love to you all.
Note – "Thrilled to Death: Paul Pavao’s Leukemia Blog" can be seen here. We all navigate cancer in a way that helps us make the best sense of it. Paul’s approach tends to be more faith-based and have a tremendous amount of clinical information mixed in his own journey. I hope you find it has helpful as I do.
Music today from Katy Perry – Wide Awake

I'm wide awake
I'm wide awake

I'm wide awake
Yeah, I was in the dark
I was falling hard
With an open heart
I'm wide awake
How did I read the stars so wrong?
I'm wide awake
And now it's clear to me
That everything you see
Ain't always what it seems
I'm wide awake
Yeah, I was dreaming for so long

I wish I knew then
What I know now
Wouldn't dive in
Wouldn't bow down
Gravity hurts
You made it so sweet
'Til I woke up on
On the concrete

Falling from cloud nine
Crashing from the high
I'm letting go tonight
Yeah, I'm falling from cloud nine

I'm wide awake
Not losing any sleep
I picked up every piece
And landed on my feet
I'm wide awake
Need nothing to complete myself, no

I'm wide awake
Yeah, I am born again
Out of the lion's den
I don't have to pretend
And it's too late
The story's over now, the end

I wish I knew then
What I know now
Wouldn't dive in
Wouldn't bow down
Gravity hurts
You made it so sweet
'Til I woke up on
On the concrete

Falling from cloud nine (it was out of the blue)
I'm crashing from the high
I'm letting go tonight (yeah, I'm letting you go)
I'm falling from cloud nine

I'm wide awake
Thunder rumbling
Castles crumbling
I'm wide awake
I am trying to hold on
I'm wide awake
God knows that I tried
Seeing the bright side
I'm wide awake
I'm not blind anymore...

I'm wide awake
I'm wide awake

Yeah, I'm falling from cloud nine (it was out of the blue)
I'm crashing from the high
You know I'm letting go tonight (yeah, I'm letting you go)
I'm falling from cloud nine

I'm wide awake