This whole run-up to surgery is becoming very tiring. Not only is there a waiting period to allow my biopsied prostate to calm down, but now I have pre-op testing, a bowel cleansing, filling out forms that ask the very same questions that are already in my records and the very idea that my prostate will be removed by remote control. What’s a poor boy to do?
What I have concluded is that I need to return to my core, I need to sit quietly, do those things that I must do to take care of myself and the others around me, but mostly sit quietly and let this very moment be at the center. I decided to not look at my calendar or wear a watch so I don’t have to focus on the future. That’s a start, for sure. But what I do best is think about issues, learn how others think about the same issues and synthesize ideas. This means I’ll be reading a lot. Currently, I am reading Modernity and the Holocaust by Zygmunt Bauman, a powerful postmodern sociological take on how the holocaust follows from the vision of the Enlightenment and modernity and, while not a necessary effect of modernity, it is made possible only by the emphasis of rationality and science combined with unchecked political power and a bureaucracy that is efficiently geared to cost effective problem solving.
My core understanding of how life actually works centers on the very notion that all that is real is this very moment, already past. The idea of the future being nothing more than the projection of goals or desires and the past being nothing more than a trace existing only as a memory that fades as the moment moves further away from the very moment of the present. Given that central idea, I believe that it is easier to close the door on projecting into the future.
I am also bolstered by the very idea that I will die someday. That is an unavoidable fact! There are no vampires, zombies or other beings that are immortal in spite of the fantastic story telling of novelists and Hollywood. The fact of dying has given me an opportunity to measure my life. In a nutshell, I discovered this simple, yet extraordinary, truth; if I were to die at this very moment I would leave this life with no regrets of any consequence. Sure, I would regret not seeing the Chicago Cubs win a World Series but this is of little consequence. Up to this point I have lived a life of which dreams are made. I worked at a job that I would have done for free, that’s right, for FREE. The bonus was that I actually got paid to work at something so interesting and rewarding.
As a middle school teacher, I had the opportunity to influence the lives of hundreds of young, maturing human beings. As an education professor I had the opportunity to work with future teachers and even watch them as their career unfolded. Professionally, I published scholarly papers in professional journals, many of which were extensively cited by others, I presented research at scholarly meetings and seminars internationally and, with a colleague, co-authored a book. During my working years I never felt like I was going to “work!” I can go to the grave knowing that I made a difference in my time on this earth.
None of this means, however, that I intend to go easily. But my best weapon for fighting my cancer is to focus on this very moment, live my life as it presents itself to me, and do that which needs being done at this very moment.