FMBR Editorial: March, 2001
A Personal Record
I have recently been given the unpleasant news that I have cancer of the esophagus. This was not a complete surprise. Two years ago for reasons that are irrelevant here my esophagus was checked and found to be precancerous. The most recent results were the result of a call-back because of that finding. The consequences are that I am facing a quite serious operation and, assuming all goes well, what will no doubt be a lengthy period of recovery. Still, that is not the important point. At least not for anybody but me. What I see as more important and what others may find interesting is my own response. I say this, not out of egotism, but because each of us may face something equally important some day. The possibility of such an event is, after all, a part of the human condition. Perhaps my experience may be of some help when and if that happens.
What has struck me as strange is that the news did not overwhelm me. I did not like it but there was no panic. While living with the prospect, I have continued to sleep well and eat as usual. I have gone on with my normal routine. I do not think I am in denial or suppressing my true emotions. In fact, I am quite aware of the fact much of the time. Mostly I am reviewing all the little things that will need doing before the operation ñ like arranging for the care of my cat and fish ñ and thinking of the problems of the recovery period. Some of my priorities have changed. For example, I have felt a new urgency to get on with pulling together the work with the Fire and Ice theme of which I have spoken to the FMBR. This, you may recall, is based on the thought that we are all what I call Fire spirits who have chosen to incarnate in order to experience selfhood and intention. On the other hand, I have been teaching computers at the Menlo Park Senior Center, Little House, and have been preparing to teach a course on a language new to me. That project is now deferred into the indefinite future. And so it goes.
My life has been changed but not devastated. I ask myself why not. Partly it is age. I have reached the point where I am no longer building towards a distant future. With age one's perspective becomes more limited. This is not despair. It is, and has been, simply that the targets for what I want to accomplish must be attainable within a reasonable time. Anything else would be unreasonable and a waste of time. Fortunately age seems to bring this change of perspective gently, almost without conscious awareness of the change.
On a more personal level, I am actually pleased to find that the Fire and Ice ideas seem to really have the flavor of reality for me. My acceptance of what is going on makes sense if I really do believe we are here to experience selfhood and intention ñ believe it as more than an interesting intellectual idea. If that is the meaning of life, then any experience should be accepted as a fulfillment. Indeed, this is particularly true of the unwelcome ones! If we are here to learn, we are much more apt to do so from the less welcome events. One rarely learns anything from what flows smoothly. It is during times of problems that we really have an opportunity to learn something new. Furthermore, this particular turn of events has made me aware of my own selfhood in a new and deep sense. It has also sharply defined the intention that is of most immediate relevance ñ to get through the operation and its aftermath ñ and to see and begin to understand a much longer range one of seeing its relevance to my life and the lives of those around me. I might even call it an opportunity though hardly one I welcome!
FMBR Board Member, Mar 2001