I thought I would get an update out to you all before the Thanksgiving holiday settles in among us and invites us to slow down and savor the good gift that life is. Whether our current circumstances be pleasing or difficult we should all, of course, always be glad to wake up alive every morning. Lately, I have also been glad just to wake up! I left you last month with a cloud of intense fatigue having descended upon me as a side effect of my new drug, Xtandi. I am very happy to report that this sleeping sickness has greatly dissipated. I still get tired easily, but I am much more functional than I was a month ago. Betsy and I have even stuck our toes back into our neglected social life, having been out to dinner ourselves and with friends now a few times. May I say it again? Normal is glorious! Living even on the edge of normal is a great gift for myself and my family. I don’t know who the kid below is, but he looks like he woke up from his nap happy. So have I!
Speaking of “normal,” I am concerned that I may have overshot it very quickly and moved on to a strange new land. Yesterday, I was buying wiper blades and ended up singing to the checkout girl as I left the store. “What a day this has been, what a rare mood I’m in . . . ,” I serenaded her. This was all triggered by two wiper blades and a pack of gum coming to $30.00 even. There are certain things you just gotta sing about, don’t you think? I may or may not have had the below hat on when I went out. I do think I heard a child say, “Mommy, who is that scary man?”If you see me ona billboard or on the wall at the post office, I would appreciate you not calling the number. I really want to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Besides, I am better now. Nothing that an extra large pizza, beer, and the best iced pumpkin spice muffins in the world couldn’t cure!
I think we’ve pretty much worn out the roller coaster metaphor with regard to my situation at this point, but if you will indulge me one more time, the photo below really isn’t a roller coaster; it is instead a Tilt-a-Wheel, I believe. Look carefully at the two woman in the front row (bottom of photo). Doesn’t it look like they are having the time of their lives – laughing uproariously, hair and hat asunder, totally lost in the moment, immersed in their joy? Now look at the women directly behind them. They seem to be taking their cues from the crazy women in front of them, shoulders humped over, building up a head of laughter steam, on the edge of giving themselves permission to be alive to this moment themselves as well. But now, sadly, look at the third car back. Same Tilt-a-Wheel. Same invigorating experience. Same moment in time. But these women just can’t get their joy on. There they sit all prim and proper, working hard at not letting loose and being happy. They actually look sad. It makes me want to give them something alcoholic and then put them back on the ride again!
Here’s my point: however much longer I live, I WANT TO LIVE ON THE FRONT ROW! I know that life isn’t a Tilt-a-Wheel all the time. Far from it. Often it is horrible and hard (I think I have some credibility to speak about this). My life has been filled with days, months, even years that I would trade in for not too much in exchange. And then I got cancer. How do we live in such a crazy world that tosses us about so much? A world that sometimes tosses us out of the Tilt-a-Wheel to our deaths? I hate it when I read about a “ride gone wrong” accident. Talk about the heights and the depths.
Right now is the time of day that my spine starts complaining that it doesn’t have much strength left and it has been holding up my body all day long. Pain sets in and I am reminded of how fragile we all are. But yesterday I laughed more than I have in a long time (maybe ever!) and I was reminded of how glorious we all are. Living well in the middle of these two realities (and helping others do the same) is something of what life is about, don’t you think? Plus, I think it makes God smile.
Paul put it this way:
“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” – Philippians 4:12
How can we live with such contentment? Frankly, I don’t have a clue – or the ability, it seems. Can we just acknowledge it’s really hard to steady our hearts so that our circumstances don’t toss us to and fro and we wander through life like seasick sailors? It is a lifetime of hard. Sometimes I just want to go screaming into the night. I really do. Maybe that’s it, though. We can either scream into the darkness or we can cry out to the One who declares Himself to be the “Rock of our salvation,” trusting Him always, especially when the crazies come to visit (no, I’m not talking about your family who’s coming for Thanksgiving).
Again, Paul: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7
I wish at this time of year I could gather you all up from around the world to thank you face to face for your thoughts, prayers, love and support for me. I would not learn to both suffer and find laughter and contentment without you also sustaining me. But wherever this week finds you, remember we are all very vulnerable, we are all fighting battles, and we were all made for an incomprehensible happiness that is ultimately ours for the taking. Remember that, and help someone else around you walk a little further towards home.
And laugh. For God’s sake, let’s all learn to laugh and play! He does not mean for us to be so unhappy. I’m very late to this party, so pardon the advice. I guess I’m just glad to be here.
Hope to see you at Wal-mart. I’ll be the guy singing!
Oh, there’s one more thing. My PSA and my alkaline phosphatase cancer bio-markers that we have been following so closely? They BOTH went DOWN this past month. My PSA went down for the second month in a row. Let’s call that a trend, shall we?
Yea. That’s right. You heard it from me. You need me to come sing to you?
THEY BOTH WENT DOWN!!!
God is such a show off this time of year!
Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.