A Challenge Too Great

As the regular followers of this blog are undoubtedly aware, I have not written anything in some time.  Although this lack of expressiveness started some time ago, it has now been subsumed in a general sense of debilitating awe, amazement and terror about events in which our world is now awash.  Like many of you, I am sure, I am nearly constantly fighting the urge to see the latest news and hear the ever-more grim statistics, so many of which are emanating from the metropolis of which my community forms an integral part of its “greater” area. 

While I have watched these events unfold, I have sadly reached an inescapable conclusion:  the challenge we face now is too great for us to manage.  But before anyone thinks I am making some type of political statement – I am not, as the current crisis seems to belong to people of all political ideologies from Communists to Libertarians, Republicans to Democrats, Bernie Bros to the good people of American Samoa who have an odd affinity for Michael Bloomberg.  In fact, the challenge about which I write today is not even the Corona virus (or COVID-19); why write about something that we clearly are not able to cope with?  Rather, it is something that this virus has inadvertently revealed and which may bring ruin to our entire way of life:  Zoom.

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Terror on the High Seas

Last week, I, along with my wife and children and all of my in-laws, set sail for a multi-day voyage aboard a cruise ship.  I realize that many, in reading that sentence juxtaposed with the title of this piece, would naturally assume that the terror I experienced was that resulting from several days in extremely close quarters with no available avenue of escape with family members.  And to be sure, I think there are few things that produce more unhappiness than spending extended periods with one’s own family.  In fact, I took a great deal of rather morbid pleasure in seeing that other families were as busily engaged in yelling at one another as my own has often been known to do. 

Yet, while there is a certain element of terror inherent in most any family get-together, my impetus for this writing has noting to do with those to whom I am related – be it by blood or marriage.  Instead, the source of my panic on this trip took the form of a 12-passenger speedboat. 

I should have known from the outset that there was going to be trouble.  While attempting to board this vessel, if one can call this miniscule motorized dinghy a vessel, we had to descend backwards down a wooden ladder to, hopefully, footing on the rocking boat.  In addition to the exhaustive list of anxiety-producing activities and objects in my life, ladders – and heights more broadly – must be included thereon.  And although I was not particularly afraid of falling off the ladder to the tiny tub below, I was concerned – as only I can be – about lodging a splinter into my mandatorily shoeless feet on this far-from sanded vertical conveyance.  As one who grew up in the heart of Appalachia, where being shoeless was a stereotype applied against us from the sophisticates in neighboring states – like Ohio and Kentucky – I have always been loath to go anywhere barefoot.  As a result, my soles are quite tender and rather sensitive.  In a manner of speaking, the bottom of my feet are almost royalty-like in that way.  Clearly the only part of me that could be so generously described. 

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I was recently reminded — repeatedly — by my 10-year-old son during multiple rounds of the board game Clue of how much my cognitive ability has been impacted by cancer and chemo. You can read the full tale of woe — or at least those parts I can remember — on blood-cancer.com’s website: https://blood-cancer.com/living/chemobrain/ .

Writing About Not Writing

I can easily count on one hand the number of positive things about living with cancer and still have a number of fingers left over for other purposes, such as crossing them to assure I do not jinx myself by thinking that there is anything positive about cancer.  (Having cancer does little to make one less superstitious.)  But one of the few fingers I could count is one for being able to share my experiences through writing about them. 

Cancer is such a terribly isolating experience in countless ways.  Consequently, when I am able to express my thoughts and concerns and fears – and even some hopes (fingers still crossed) – I am able to mitigate that loneliness to a not insignificant degree.  By sharing these writings I have been able to connect with others who are unfortunately also having similar experiences.  And despite the best intentions of family and friends, what it is like to endure cancer is really only truly knowable to others who share such a diagnosis. 

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