Here it is Sunday morning and I continue to be euphoric about the results of surgery. When my urologist spoke the words, “You have prostate cancer,” I was in a state of shock. These are words no one wants to hear especially with my family history of cancer. My mother died from ovarian cancer and my father died from the lasting effects of radiation when he was fighting off lung cancer. I suspect that somewhere in my psyche I expected to hear those dreadful words.
So why am I so euphoric. Well, as many of you already know, my urologist caught up with me in the recovery room speaking these words, “Surgery went quite well. I believe we got it all but we won’t know for certain until we get back the biopsy of the lymph nodes. Right now, I see no reason not to be optimistic.” Okay, so nothing is for certain here, but clearly there is something to be quite thankful for and I am quite thankful that the time for me to transition from life to the infinite is not likely to occur anytime soon. Of course, waiting is part of the game. I expect that I will get the call on Wednesday with the final results of the surgery and biopsy so I won’t celebrate until then but I am already picking out places where I want to kick my heals back and just let this feeling ride.
Now, in this very moment, I am being quite selfish. I recognize that so I will allow myself to cross that line and focus inwardly for a while. But I have to remember a line from a Guy Clark tune that speaks to this very situation. It goes like this:
Nothing lasts forever say the old men in the shipyards
Turning trees into shrimp-boats, hell I guess they ought to know!
Right now I am celebrating my life. But soon I will become tired of that because, at the core, selfish behavior has no moral or ethical compass; it will become a bore. It is then when I must return and announce, “Here I Am!” thereby creating the space of proximity for the other and simply wait for some kind of response. Because the announcement is spoken without reservation, a response may never come. Even when it does come, it may be difficult to understand because it fails to incorporate the fundamental ethical obligation. But on some occasions a received response will touch a nerve, sparking a conversation that may change the interlocutors’ view of the world. It is those moments that the ethical compass is working at its very best.
Too often, in this existential world, actors fail to assume responsibility for their actions toward the self and toward others. We see it in the income gap between CEOs and their factory floor workers. There is only so much money one needs to say, “I’m rich.” Any more and you are just a pig (although I shouldn’t be so unkind to these most interesting animals). Up until this very moment, I have not really had a cause to fight for, to volunteer for or to donate money to. That has all changed. The Prostate Cancer Foundation is my new project. Perhaps I can get some of those rich folks to part with a lot of their money in order to help find both a prevention and a cure for this dreaded disease.