This picture from Tennyson’s birthday perfectly captures how I feel about my family. In the early days after being diagnosed, I found myself contemplating death quite a bit. As frightening as the thought was, I couldn’t ignore that death might be calling to me and there is nothing I can do about it.
I was in the middle of one of these dark ponderings during a failed attempt at a nap when my thoughts drifted to Tennyson. I imagined him growing up without me and what that would be like for him. I thought of all the milestones and moments I would miss out on, and the darkness in my mind was growing even darker.
But in that moment, when self-pity was about to consume me, something profound happened: I decided that I want to live. It might seem like an obvious conclusion to reach, but it was a conclusion that I had to come to consciously. It was much deeper than a simple desire to survive. It was an empowering decision to take on this experience as an active and willful participant rather than a helpless passenger. It was a will to live surging from my core. It was a spiritual experience.
That moment marked the beginning of a shift away from relying on the confidence and faith of others toward becoming more self-reliant in the mental-emotional-spiritual aspect of my journey. Looking back, I don’t know how or if I would have made such a breakthrough without having this great kid in my life. I genuinely believe that the decision I made in that moment–to choose life–is the reason that I will beat cancer, and it is all thanks to his existence and my love for him. And for that reason he really is a superhero. Must be from his mom’s genes.
I’m known to blabber on about the importance of connection and community, so I was excited to find out about a place where skills and services can be exchanged without the exchange of money. If you have any amount of any kind of skill to offer then you can find unlimited value in this community. You also get quite a few “credits” just by joining and setting up your account, so check it out. I hope others find it as exciting as I do.
Here we go. Round 1 of about 9 I’ll receive over the next 6 months. My mind raced all night.
It has been fascinating to watch the fragile dance between my mind and the world around me, seeking out the balance between acceptance of my reality and exertion of my will to alter my reality. If I lean too far into acceptance I risk falling into fatalism, apathy, and depression. If I lean too far into exertion of will I risk falling into self-delusion, denial, and anxiety. Somewhere in the middle is a sweet spot where reality is respected, but my will still has power to influence outcomes in my favor. Every day I engage in this dance, some days more gracefully than others.
Today I’m grateful for the people who help me dance with a little more grace. And I’m grateful that this dance has helped me become aware that the whole world is dancing with me. Sometimes we go through things that make our dance a little more visible, but we are all dancing. My hope is that we never let each other dance alone. My hope is that we’ll all be willing to let others see us dance, no matter how devoid of grace we might be, and that we’ll allow others to support us when it feels like we can’t dance anymore. We need each other too much to mind our own business.