While by that title you may think I’m hunting down a deft South Korean neuro-oncologist who’s on the verge of something big, the happy pursuit I’m actually referring to is the continuation of my recent theory that United States National Parks cure cancer.
After what I’ve seen this month, I can tell you quite confidently that they do.
At least temporarily.
After my recent visit to Acadia, my friend’s mom asked me “How was the trip?” and without hesitation (or perhaps even exaggeration) I smiled, shook my head, and told her “I think that trip just added a year to my life.” She smiled and nodded with complete understanding. “So I’ve got at least one year left!” I said. Then her face lit up. “You should go to Utah!” she said. “That’s three or four more years right there!”
And so I went. Taking the long way home from the East Coast to California, I passed through Utah. Through Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks. I was lucky (and awake) enough to be able to do that. In one fell swoop. In one fell Buick Regal rental car.
And so it is that I now know I will live at least 5 more years. Acadia + Arches + Canyonlands + Bryce + Zion = I will live to see 42. That is, as long as this experimental National Parks clinical trial turns out to be the real deal. And assuming I wasn’t just administered a placebo in the form of some kind of weird hallucination-inducing Buick Regal.
But back to Utah. Man I’d like to go back to Utah. In October, when it isn’t 8,000 degrees and I have more time and energy and there isn’t an invading army of French families roaming the sandstone cliffs in their own fleet of rented Buick Regals (turns out they know how to enjoy our country better than we do).
It was a fast trip, but it was a spectacular trip. And even in its fast spectacularity, it probably did add at least a few years to my life. It definitely added a few days. It definitely gave me quite a few moments and hours of Totally Feeling Like I Don’t Have Cancer, Or If I Do Who Fucking Cares Look How Beautiful This Place Is!
I mean, look how beautiful this is (and I don’t just mean that Dutch the Dog):
When you’re in a place like that, at sunrise, looking at something like THAT, you can’t think about cancer. You can’t think about anything bad, or annoying, or sad. When you’re looking at something like THAT, you actually can’t think about anything at all! All your mind can do (aside from trying to keep your jaw from completely falling off) is to process the unadulterated beauty that is being laser-beamed into your eye sockets at the speed of light.
It forces you into a state of meditation. If you’re a meditator (or even if you’re not, and are meditate-curious), you’ll recognize the appeal in having a moment where your brain isn’t doing any planning or worrying or even thinking. It’s just taking in. And relaxing. And enjoying being here. Which, if your state of “being here” is in imminent danger (like mine), is especially refreshing.
And it turns out somebody already thought of this!
(And I don’t mean the Mormons– although they were certainly onto something staking their claim to this state.)
It turns out somebody already realized how life-affirming and life-giving beautiful places like National Parks can be– and it also turns out that they already did something about it!
You see, when I was at the gate to Arches National Park at around 7 in the morning having a lovely chat with Friendly Happy Janet of the Parks Service (turns out everybody that works in these places is both friendly and happy– gee I wonder why), I noticed a little sign on the window that said that disabled people get a free lifetime pass to all the national parks and forests. How lovely is that! I said so to Janet, who immediately asked if I was disabled. I laughed, and having already (gladly) paid my entrance fee, I told her “no, I’m not disabled. I only have brain cancer.” Upon realizing that despite my smile I was being serious, she smiled back and said “well that counts!” and proceeded to give me a free lifetime pass to all the U.S. National Parks and Forests. How great is that!
It’s really wonderful that there was a meeting somewhere sometime where a bunch of Parks Service employees all agreed that people with disabilities should be able to get their eyes laser-beamed with shit like this for free, whenever they want. Because clearly, if these places can cure cancer, they can cure all sorts of ills. I love that they did that. And I love that Janet, despite my insistence on paying, gave me my money back with a free lifetime pass.
Thanks for helping me see more stuff like this:
Thanks for helping to cure my brain chance. At least for a couple of days. And maybe for a couple of years.