Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Shock to the System

Last November, I was very suddenly forced to reconsider everything that I value. All that I believe in came into both question and clarity for me. My cancer made me face fate, fairness and the future.
Interestingly, America is collectively facing a similar crisis in confidence. The current state of financial affairs has us doubting our beliefs, reevaluating our guiding principles and reassessing our ways. I see many parallels between my having to look at my own mortality – my personal transformation – and the grave circumstances that our country and world face.
We are all reappraising what is really important these days. I wouldn't say that I was focused on money or material gain, but much of that is even less of a factor in my decision-making these days. All of my blessings became even more precious. For many Americans, a home and a job are unexpectedly something for which to feel fortunate these days.
I had always assumed that I would enjoy the same long life that my grandparents have. That future is suddenly, obviously, very much in doubt for me. Americans also presumed that tomorrow would always be better than today, that the GDP would always grow and that our kids would be better off than we are. Doubt about the future is very unsettling – scary really.
I always considered myself young and healthy. I had never spent a day in the hospital. I was gearing up to run my sixth marathon and was feeling quite fit for a 42-year old when things began to unravel. Silly me, I thought that I was in control. Claiming to be invulnerable might be a stretch, but I was certainly very confident in my body and mind. America too has been strutting its' stuff for the entire second half of the last century. But the last few months have undermined that exceptionalism. It turns out that we are vulnerable after all. And as individuals, it certainly feels like we have little control over the layoffs, foreclosures, market losses, etc. happening to us.
The last parallel embodies a longer timeline and reflects the relationship between the fear-hope continuum and religion in my life. Religion wasn't exceedingly important to me throughout the 90s. God was there and I attended Church occasionally, but I wasn't actively interacting with either. Somehow, the despair and helplessness I felt after the disputed Presidential election of 2000 brought me back to religion. The 9-11 tragedy and our response to it furthered my longing for something that I could trust and believe in. Eight long years of fear-based living were terribly distressing for me. The hope of the last few months, even in the face of tremendous challenges – that I and we have felt - is far preferable. The parallels continue.
So…with an entire value system in question, a future in doubt, control and invulnerability undermined – me and you and all of us are understandably rattled. But thankfully, hope has replaced fear. And though I would never claim that he is on our side as a nation (implying that he is not for another), I do know that God is there for me personally. He has blessed me thus far. I thank him every day for the treatments that are helping to keep me healthy. I trust in his grace.

I am into my third week of radiation - somewhere between a third and halfway done and feeling very well so far. I can only hope and pray that my body will continue to respond as well over the next few weeks and months.
I apologize for the long lapses between entries (darn work!) and will try to do better moving forward.
Thanks as always for all of your prayers.
Happy spring! – a wonderful season of renewal and hope.

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