But this time, it isn’t from chemo. Or radiation. Or having my head opened up and fiddled around with for a third or fourth time.
This time, I’m tired because I’ve been working. Hard. Building something. And this kind of tired feels good.
Building something feels good. It feels good to make something; something that you can turn around and look at, and with deserved and uncomplicated satisfaction think to yourself: “I did that. And that is good.”
The thing you make can be as simple as a bouquet of flowers, or as complex as turning your friend’s garage into a guest house. It could even be as high-falutinly aspirational as a feature film about cancer, or a not-for-profit charity Foundation dedicated to making that film, and helping people with cancer.
I actually worked on building all four of those things today. And I completed two of them.
And that is why I am tired. And that is why this kind of tired feels good.
I’m tempted to wonder why this “building things” impulse satisfies us… whether it’s just another one of our vain (and vain) attempts to disprove our own mortality– to make something / leave something behind that gives us permission to think “Yes, see, look at that! I made that, and that is bigger than me! That’ll last longer than I will! Because I am afraid– I am oh so afraid — that I am not very big at all, that I might not last very long at all.”
I am also tempted to stop wondering about things like this. And I suppose you are too. And so I’d like to revisit something that I wrote about briefly… something that occurred to me when I was in the middle of an “oh my god I’m gonna die what the hell am I doing with myself I didn’t enjoy today enough did I enjoy today enough maybe if I stopped worrying right now I could be enjoying today more does any of this have any meaning anyway oh my god I’m gonna die what does all of this mean” kind of moment.
So I was thinking something like the run-on thought above, and then suddenly, some calmer, far more mature (and probably better dressed) version of me crept up to the plate, and he put his hand on my shoulder, and he said something to me.
And this is what he said:
“Dude. Calm down. You’re not always gonna be here. But you will always have been here.”
And then I paused, and I thought about this. I thought about something I had just said to myself.
“I will always have been here.”
“Yeah. You will always have been here.”
“I will, always, have been here.”
“You will, always, have been. Here.”
And then a wave of calm came over me. Because I realized that there’s an indisputable truth to this thought. And this truth carries with it an indisputable answer to The Biggest Fear There Is: the fear of death.
You will die, but there is nothing impermanent about you. Because you will always have been here.
The only question that’s really worth asking is this:
“How were you?”
I’m happy to say that today, I was good. Today I made a few things. Some big, some small. Either way, I will always have done that.
And that’s good enough, for today.
That, I suspect, is good enough for most days.
It might even be enough for all of them.
(Since this blog was originally conceived as a means of Updation, here’s the latest, in brief):
• Brain surgery #3, 3 months ago. Successful.
• 1st MRI after surgery showed some stuff. Could be cancer, could be healing tissue. Only way to know is wait and see.
• Started on new clinical trial (immunotherapy vaccine, similar to the last one. Who knows if it’ll do anything, but having the option at all is very, very lucky).
• Latest MRI (2 weeks ago) showed same stuff as previous MRI. Said stuff is not growing. Which means it’s probably not cancer (if it was cancer, it would be growing). This is good news.
• Feeling relatively good. Working on things big and small. Extremely grateful to be able to do either.
• Next MRI in 2 weeks. We’ll see. This is how it goes.
• It goes! Hooray for that. Above all, hooray for that.
• And I’ve got work to do!
• But I am tired.
• I’m gonna get some sleep, then get back to work.
• (In between those things, I think I’ll have a nice breakfast.)
• Good night!