Surviving In This Very Moment…

My Personal Battle with Prostate Cancer … And Life!

Recovering from the Crowd just to Celebrate

Thanksgiving Dinner (Photo credit: The Vault DFW)

My house was quite warm last night as 23 (I forgot to count someone) people were stuffed into our house for a grand Thanksgiving dinner. I opened some windows for a bit of fresh air. My nephew’s step-daughter played the fiddle and my grand-niece sang a song or two. They are like 7 and 8 years old and are like sisters. Both love an audience and we were happy to provide one for them. Food and company were great and all had a grand old time. My goodness, I am so glad that is over.

Today is a very special day. 26 years ago today Susan and I got married. I was then, and I am now, completely under the spell of this woman. My father often said that Susan was the best thing that ever happened to me but he was wrong,,,Best is hardly enough to accommodate the effect of this relationship on me. Language is sometimes far too limiting to make sense of the world we live in so I’ll just bask in the sunshine that Susan brings to my life.

This is also day three of my final preparation for surgery. Clearly, the switch from my normal NSAID to acetaminophen is taking a toll on me. My newly replaced knee is tightening up and appears to be a bit more swollen than usual. My back aches and I find myself stooping a bit, shoulders sloped inward and head leaning down. The only upside of this preparation is that I won’t bleed to death during surgery. Well, that’s not quite true. There is another amazing benefit; the gift of humility that may arrive under stress.

Humility begins when one concludes that they are not the center of the universe, that they are not THAT important, that everyone and everything doesn’t revolve around them. It is a practice that recognizes the exteriority of others and embraces the differences that others bring to the table. Humility requires one to place the other person’s needs before one’s own needs. It is interesting that adversity, such as pain or stress, often is the trigger for either a self-centered rant against the universe or is the boundary between ego and humility, the setting aside of ego in lieu of the other. Humility is a gift presented unexpectedly requiring no reciprocation and it comes with absolutely no fine print or strings attached. Humility is the place of responsibility for the other. In a very practical sense, it takes one’s mind off of the stress and pain, thereby minimizing the need to complain. Humility arrives when one makes the decision to let go of the self, to become available and act on the decision. It is a true gift because it cannot be reciprocated or returned. It may be put on the shelf for a while but once attained it is always within one’s grasp.

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2 thoughts on “Recovering from the Crowd just to Celebrate

  1. And then on the day of your surgery, despite your best efforts to not be the center of attention, it’s all about you! Since you’ve been there before, you may not experience it the same way I did, but as this was my first time in the hospital as a patient since birth 55 years ago, and described as having “no medical history”, it was a fascinating experience.

  2. David, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Yes, on the day of surgery everything and everyone will focus on me. In fact, because pain is involved, I will be focused inwardly with not much more on my mind than the pain. In Time and the Other Levinas talks about this temporary interiority caused by some abnormal phenomenological condition. Where there is pain, there is only room to focus on the pain, period. Knowing that this is a short-lived phenomenon it is truly only a minor setback. Pain, like everything else, soon becomes but a trace, a memory that becomes less intense with the passage of time. It doesn’t replace a fundamental ethical stance, it merely takes it off the tracks for a short period of time.

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