Monday, December 5, 2011

My Manifesto

I have to do this. It's time I draw the line in the sand. There is no turning back. I've come too far to give up now. I have dreams, a life to live.

Who else can love Lauren better than I? Who else can open the Atlas Arcade? Who can be a greater friend to those I care for? Who can be a better father to the children in my future? No, if I'm to live these dreams, I can't let even this set me back. No matter the cost, no matter the pain, I will survive. I will come out on top. Bring your best and I'll destroy them all. There's fire in my blood and I'm ready for the fight. I have too much to live for to let you stop me here.

I call out to you, those tired of the monotony life has given you, those wanting to be freed from the chains of mediocrity. Get behind me and I'll carve us a path! To freedom! To the future! To our dreams! To tomorrow!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Think, Man! Think!

It’s my first full day in St. Louis. I have begun the last leg of my treatment. Today, they did a few tests, and gave me a sample of the drug I am in a trial for. It is supposed to accelerate the building of my stem cells which will aid in the collection later this week.

I’m exhausted, and still carry that knot in my stomach that I know won’t be cured by any medicine and will remain with me until I return home. I can’t sleep more than half an hour at a time since my bed is missing something vital.

However, something caught my attention today while I was at the hospital. My lack of patience for people who substitute a smile for knowledge. Just because you have that fake grin on your face, does not excuse you for not performing your job or being knowledgable about the information concerning your profession. Don’t be shocked when I don’t wave off my complaint or inquiry just because you don’t want to find out. I wasn’t asking to invoke a conversation. I have a quandary that needs a response. If you don’t know, find someone who does and bring them here. Don’t just stand there grinning dumbly.

On that same note, giving a person what they want is far different from giving them what you or the company thinks they want. When you ask me if I want a blanket, and I say no, why in the name of all that is good, do you cover me with a blanket? Not only did I not ask for it, I specifically stated I did not wish to have one. You then attempt to access my port because you “think patients prefer it to getting pricked in the arm.” “Patients?” Are we all the same now? I just finished telling you I don’t want you touching that. Leave it alone. Use my arm. Yes, I am fully aware it means I get a needle in my arm. That is what getting a needle in your arm means.

Use your head, take each individual into account, don’t just go through the motions and expect everyone to want whatever attention you’re giving them. What exactly do you take me for?

This entry can be summed up quite simply in the phrase, “Think, man! Think!”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Life Worth Living

We meet a multitude of people during the span of our lifetime. Most of these people whose paths we cross are simply strangers we share a passing glance with, or even just happen to exist in our peripheral vision. Someone who wanders within sight that will soon vanish just as quickly as they came.

There are people we share moments, maybe even quite a few moments of our life with. They remain active in our minds and in our lives for a long time. We share memories, we laugh together, cry together, we look forward to spending time together.

And then there is that person that your life just seems to bend around. You just find yourself inexplicably drawn to them, and they to you.

They change you for the better. Not that changing you is their intent, but just being around them makes you want to improve. They can see right through you, and can reveal to you your core strengths, even ones you didn’t know you had. They lift you up when you’ve fallen, and allow you to lean on them to prevent your ever falling again.

Life had meaning before, but you’ve removed my blinders, allowed me to see so much more than I could have ever seen. I feel like I can take on anything, as long as I get to come home to that smile.

I have found my greatest treasure, and it’s you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

This Too Shall Pass

It has been far too long since I’ve blogged. And I know exactly why. I’ve been wanting to invent some grand account with my new struggle concerning chemotherapy. I’ve been wanting to log every detail. I’ve been wanting. I just, haven’t been doing.

The treatment I wanted to write about drained me so much that during the time I was feeling it, I was too weakened to write about it. And once I was out of it, during recovery, I wanted nothing to do with it. I was trapped by my own condition. And so my blog sat here, waiting for me.

Until I came to realize a great truth. Something I’ve heard time and again, but never quite listened to. “This too shall pass.” It’s a beautifully zen saying. No matter what hardships we may face, they’ll pass. No matter what great event is occurring in our lives, it’ll pass. Our ups and downs, our proudest and our weakest moments, all will pass in time. They’re important moments in our lives, but that is all they are. Moments.

While I was suffering the effects of treatment, I felt locked inside my own personal hell. I couldn’t even remember time before the agony, nor could I imagine a time after. I was lost in that moment. And that’s when it hit me. That moment. It’s all that matters, right now. Live in that singular moment. Savor every taste, breathe in every breath of air. There is no future, there is no past. There is only now.

And that is exactly what I intend to write about. The now. Pure and simple.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Survival of the Fittest

I made it. It’s the two-year mark, finally. Happy birthday to me. It couldn’t already be two years. But the time has come. Every test has returned normal. Every exam has come back clean. What more can be done but to remove this machine from my body, and hang up the towel. We have won.

The battle is over, but the doctor wants just one more scan. This is a little favor considering all that he has done.

What’s this? It cannot be. And yet, there it is. Precisely where it once was. Like the moon in a midnight sky, my neck glows on the page. Could it be? My tonsils are likewise illuminated. There is even a star to set the scene in my chest.

What has happened? The chances of anything happening after two years is supposed to be almost nil. But this…no, no. I recognize you, foe. I’ve felt your shadow creep upon me. How could I have been so blind, basking in the sunshine. I could not sense my own shadow approaching. You who I fought for too long, have decided to welcome yourself back in. The others refuse to believe, but I know it is the truth.

Just you wait. The curtain shall rise, and all will know it is you who wishes to claim me. And it is then that my trap will be set, and I will have you. You cannot take me. You will not take me. I will destroy you. I will survive.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Is It Over?

Life had begun anew. On my twenty-first birthday, I received the news that I had been cured. No, I knew the moment the first dose of treatment hit my bloodstream, I had won. It was merely required that I survive the ordeal. Time was lost to me. I had heard that treatment lasted 6 months, but it seemed only a day, and yet…a lifetime. I felt as though I had woken up after a long dark sleep.

My senses returned to me. The world seemed brighter, more vibrant than I could remember. Scents hung in the air, colors leapt out at me. Memories etched themselves into my mind. I felt renewed. My mountain had not claimed me. Proudly I stood at its peak, the conquerer and not the conquered. No more would I struggle. No more would I wonder if I could survive the night. My life was my own.

Every test proved my life was back in my hands. Every scan looked normal, every doctor visit returned positive results. Slowly, surely, I made the trips less and less. It was hard at first, not having anything to do every other week. Some times I would look at the clock and think that I had better get ready, it was almost time for treatment. And then I would remember that those days were over. I no longer needed those training wheels. I no longer needed that weapon to keep me alive. I WAS the weapon.

Some things, however, had to change. There were parts of me that would never go back to the way they were. I was irrevocably changed by this chain of events. For better or worse, there was no turning back. I could only go forward each day, as the man I had become.

I had danced with death and lived. That fact had rooted itself in my very core. I slowly began to realize the truth of what had happened. Colors were more vibrant because I had lived in darkness.  Sounds were more distinct because I suffered in silence. I saw life for the value it held. This one life I have, became the greatest treasure imaginable.

It was at that moment that I had truly awaken. When all other lights had faded, mine burned even brighter.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Night's Ending

Life had begun to take its tumultuous turn of events. Every weakness in my body had begun to fade. I no longer held the same crippling symptoms that I had earlier. In their place, however, I was visited by a phantom.

I took this weight as my own burden to bear. It simply had to be so, because even though I suffered, I could tell I was handling it far greater than any others receiving the same treatment. I was not sick, moving from one room to another didn’t drain me of all my energy, I was even strong enough to receive treatment every two weeks instead of every three. There was even a time when the machine used to test if a patient’s blood was strong enough to handle chemotherapy was down, and no one received treatment, save me. They knew I could take it.

I could take it. That phrase played through my head as often as it fell from the lips of those around me. I often found myself pondering if it was simply a wish, a hope, that others had. They had their own reasons for wanting me to live, so they passed their empty wishes on to me, in hopes that I could fulfill them.

But it wasn’t that way. At least, not with me. I knew, somewhere deep down, that I COULD take it. I was made to survive. No matter what happened, I’d hold on. I can’t say it was some beautiful dream of a life I had yet to live that kept me going. I can’t say it was some vision of the future I had yet to accomplish. I simply kept going…because I had to. That’s all there was to it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Cursed Blade

Treatment has begun.

Interestingly enough, the moment the chemicals reached my bloodstream, every symptom faded away. Now, I only have to deal with side effects from the treatment.

Every day is still a battlefield for me. Now, however, I have a weapon in hand to defend myself against the onslaught. A tainted weapon that saps my strength, but a weapon nonetheless. No matter the cost, I must survive this ordeal. I must rise above. I must.

Days have begun to blur. The only ones that seem to stand out are the treatment days, once every two weeks. I think I’m losing my sense of time. All I have to look forward to is the next treatment. The next time I get away from the humdrum of survival to receive the next batch that can take me one step closer to recovery.

While searching through the channels to find anything to take my mind off of things, I came across what looked like the beginning of an epic tale. There was a woman in white riding a horse as if she was fleeing for her life. Little did I know, I had stumbled upon what would become an eye-opening and life-changing experience. I had found the pilot episode of Legend of the Seeker. It never received any commercial time, the only way to find it was to catch the previous episode or hear from someone who did.

This was an epic coming-of-age tale. The story of a man destined for greatness, whose will, reason and thirst for truth carved mountains and toppled an empire.

This was a tale that inspired me to fight on. Nothing else mattered, I HAD to keep fighting, no matter what happened, I HAD to get to the next episode. Each week, I grew more and more determined. Finally, I had a goal, just one more week, just one more episode.

I could feel my strength returning. I had realized why he inspired me so. Everything he believed in, his ideals, his strengths, his weaknesses, they were mine, they had been since I was a child. I was looking into a mirror, and seeing myself triumph over death itself. And so I fought, blade in hand, against the tide to win my freedom.

Friday, May 13, 2011

With Eyes Wide Open

I recently got back in touch with a great friend who moved out of the country. We’ve never talked on the phone much before, for the circular reasoning that we never talk on the phone much. Neither wished to call, we’d simply text. But this time, I’m glad we didn’t.

Of course, he no longer has the ability to text, not using a real cell phone number to call. But since we talked for 15 minutes the day before, he thought he’d call again so we could talk.

I had just told him that I’m going through something. We aren’t sure what’s going on, but something certainly is. I might get another dance with death, or it could just be tonsillitis. No one really knows yet. Nevertheless, he was worried and wanted to talk to me about it.

We spoke for a long while, discussing the possibilities, and the concept of death. I told him how to me, to live or die isn’t really the object. When you make it your goal to stay alive, you’ll eventually lose, and you have that fear of losing until it happens. My goal is just to fight. No matter what happens, I’m going to fight. My dance with Death left me with a scar. I vowed then that before it takes me, I’ll leave give death itself a scar to match.

This reassured him, as he was worried about how I was handling the possibilities of my ailment. It was then that I heard something I’d never thought I’d hear before. This is a man I’ve grown close to over the years. A man I’ve trusted, and at times looked up to. But we’ve never spoken the words. There was a mutual understanding of how we felt, a look in the eye or a nod, but never touched on it. We were always too busy laughing and having fun.

This day was different. I knew we were close, I knew we cared for one another like brothers. But to hear the words, to hear him say I’m the same as family, that I mean so much to him, I can’t die, if anything bad happens, he’s on the next flight back to see me. I’m his best friend, and he can’t lose me.

It was eye-opening. I never thought hearing those words would mean so much. I realized just how many lives I’ve touched, and how many people were backing me up, cheering me on. I realized just what my life is worth.

We really don’t say such personal things as often as we should. We’re afraid of revealing our soul to people, because it makes us vulnerable. But imagine, if just one person reveals how they truly feel, and it can rekindle the flame, making a cancer survivor fight for their life with renewed vigor, just imagine what more people can do.

Reach out and touch someone. I’m not saying we all need to act nice and tell complete strangers that we care about them, and start spewing religious claptrap everywhere. But if you’ve got someone close to you, someone you truly care about, even if you assume that they know (and they very well might), make sure they know how you feel. Truth paves roads that were never before accessible. Not only can it give someone else a well-needed boost, it just might reveal something to you that you never once before realized.

Open your eyes, and the eyes of another.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Ironing out the Irony

First and foremost, I've realized there's something I need to announce to you all. I've continuously had worried readers concerned about my health after reading my posts. To put this commotion to rest (not to say I don't enjoy your feedback, I really do), until further notice, any update tagged #DancingWithDeath is looking back at the past during my battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Everything else is dealing with the present.

Second, ironically, I am trying to spread the word about what exactly went on with my battle against cancer, to make others aware of just what it is people go through during such a trial. And yet this unknown ailment I am currently facing is keeping me too tired to write about the past. Strange how that works. Lucky for me (and for you!) I've hit a turning point and I've regained much of my lost energy, so we're back in business! Thank you all for your patience as I deal with whatever this is I'm dealing with.

Monday, April 25, 2011


You know those sappy love stories where the guy finally realizes the truth behind the feelings he’s been carrying for the woman? But she’s in a far off place and probably with another man?

Yeah, I hate those.

Waging War

I didn’t think about it again the rest of the weekend. I really don’t think much about it at all. It’s like being born with two eyes, or ten fingers. It’s just something that ‘is’. You get used to it, really. At least, that’s what I’ve come to believe.

It never crossed my mind that I should be wallowing in self-pity, all “oh woe is me, poor poor Kevin, whatever can I do to live?” I recognized there was a problem, saw the solution, and began pouring everything I had into getting there.

I didn’t realized until much later that I never told my friend about it the entire vacation. I was too busy enjoying myself at the theme park.

I finally have my answer, but not completely. We know what it is that’s killing me, we just don’t know how badly. The doctor ordered a bone marrow biopsy to determine what stage I am in. Let me tell you, that’s one hell of a trip. If you ever get the chance, get one of these. And by get one, I mean run like hell in the other direction.

Sure, the anesthetic works wonders, but there’s a reason they give you so much of the stuff. I guess it’s my natural resistance to medicine and the like, but it took a while for the anesthetic to kick in. I laid there on my stomach talking to the anesthesiologist, and after a few minutes, recognized that my vision began to blur, but just at the corners of my eyes.

Next thing I know, I’m mid-sentence discussing something with my mother in recovery. To be honest, I’m glad she didn’t have a tape recorder. It’s probably best I don’t remember anything that was said that day. She could hear me all the way from the OR, as I had lost all sense of volume, chatting up all the doctors in the room. While in recovery waiting for my mind to return, I had in-length rated the attractiveness of every nurse I had seen.

The best part was, of course, once the tranquilizers wore off and I could feel the spot they ran me through with a rusty machete. Or so it felt. Every time I walked, I caught myself trying to force my lower back more forward as I moved, as if it got me further away from the pain.

Days later, the results of the biopsy came in. My doctor called me to his office to discuss the news. Stage III of IV, with a 40% chance to live. Everyone else was so excited, that it wasn’t state IV. It hadn’t metasticised to any organs was all that meant.

I only remember thinking, “Forty percent. That’s more than enough. Even if it were 1%, it might as well be 100.”

Treatment was to begin immediately, chemotherapy every two weeks for the next six months. And so it begins. I have my answer, and they’re handing me the cure. Let the battle begin.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let's Do This

It’s been nearly nine months now. The doctors say they finally have an idea of what’s going on, but they aren’t telling me what. I find myself reassured that I’m getting closer to the answers I seek. The truth will soon be discovered.

We missed the train last time around. By the time I could get to see the doctor, the antibiotics already suppressed the symptoms. She says the next time it happens, to call her and I’m going into surgery that morning.

I never thought I’d welcome this pain so willingly, but the drive to the hospital was the most euphoric pain imaginable. It was nigh unbearable, yes, but it meant an answer.  The swelling’s never reached the lower half of my body before. I found myself wondering what significance that might hold.

I arrived at the hospital and was immediately prepped for surgery, as promised. The nurse who shaved the area was really cute. If I wasn’t so excited to learn the truth behind my suffering, I might have asked for her number. Maybe someday I’ll have my priorities worked out…

Days later, it’s my mother’s birthday. It’s also the day the family is going on our yearly vacation to Branson. She received a call in the Arby’s drive-thru just before we left town, but wouldn’t say what it was about. We had to stop by the house again because she forgot something she said. I saw through the cover but didn’t say anything. As she climbed back in the car, I knew something had happened, but again, she deflects.

The entire drive was spent talking with my best friend, who’s joined us for the trip, while in the back of my mind, I watched my parents for signs of what changed the atmosphere. That night, we ate at a delicious steak house and laughed the entire meal. I casually brought up the phone call and my mother sobered up until we left.

We’ve finally arrived at the hotel, everyone else has gone down to the pool to relax but Mom has stayed behind for the moment. Now is the time to find my answers. I nearly pin her up against a wall, demanding to know what is going on, and that’s when she breaks down. She explains to me that the phone call was my doctor. With tears in her eyes, she looks up at me, and speaks the words “It’s Hodgkin’s Lymphoma…Cancer of the lymph nodes. But it’s the curable kind…”

I sit on the bed opposite her, and within my mind, the words float by:

I have cancer.

It’s curable.

Let’s do this.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dreaming of You

Dreams have a funny way of bringing things to the forefront of our minds. Funny, and yet bitter-sweet.

I dreamed last night, of events unfolding, playing themselves out as if I didn’t make what I’ve come to believe as my greatest mistake. I saw, for a moment, a glimpse of what life could be like, had I done things differently. It was beautiful, it was magical, but it wasn’t real. Somehow, deep inside my mind, I knew it couldn’t be real, that at some point, I would have to wake up and push all of this aside.

I know, I’ve probably said it before, that you can’t live in the past, it’s what happens now that matters. Well, this event is what had taught me that nugget of truth. A ghost from the past, if you will.

I hesitated. Because of certain similarities to events I had experienced in the past, I hesitated. I didn’t give my all. Because I couldn’t commit fully to what was going on around me, because I was still living in the past, I caused a lot of damage. I felt terrible for so long, until it finally scabbed over and I was able to recover. Viewing that dream, however, ripped open the wound anew.

This had me lost in thought all day, observing different trains of thought running through my head. (Yes, I do  think about thinking.) Because of that one singular event, I vowed never to have it happen again. I would learn from my mistakes and become even more in control than I ever dreamed possible. I searched for reason, for a way to understand the world around me, to understand myself, and to hone my rational thought so I could commit without a second thought.

This is what led me to the two-fold path of Zen and Objectivism. One, at least for me, would not be complete without the other. Zen sterilizes the field, clears and opens my mind, preparing me for new experiences, and helps me to keep my wide-eyed wonder in life. This is what makes experiences all the more vivid. Objectivism, the other side of the coin, is what then fills up the space, with nothing more than is necessary. It’s a reminder not only to collect what is important, but to remove what isn’t.

Hesitation only invites death and decay. To stop moving allows roots to grow around our feet. Live your life, don’t relive your past. Seize the day that stands before you and claim it as your own.

The past cannot control us, if we are to truly live. Let the memories of the past be simply the bridge that takes us from the present to our future.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reason To Live

I still don’t know what’s killing me. No one will say it, but I know it’s true. Whatever it is that’s wrong, it’s killing me. I’ve begun to think if I wasn’t resisting it as much as I have, I’d already be dead.

The doctors think it’s just some freak case. They’ve given me antibiotics and it seems to work, for a time. My symptoms have gone down, but the underlying cause, I can still feel it within me, like a feral beast awaiting the moment when the cage is opened once again.

At least I’ve found something to note the passage of time. This eternal struggle has made time seem to stand still. I’ve never been interested in it before, but I’ve found myself watching American Idol. There’s something about this guy from Blue Springs, Missouri. I find myself wanting him to win. It sounds crazy thinking about it, but at the time, it made sense. I’m fighting for my life against an unknown ailment, and I’m voting for someone to win a talent show.

I think it’s giving my life meaning. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’m going to conquer it. I’m not just going to fight it, I’m going to find ways to enjoy myself despite the pain and anguish. I’m going to make this guy the winner. I started getting callouses from voting so much. My phone let me send a message to twenty numbers at the time and even by the end of the first night, I could enter it in without a thought. My mom and I voted the entire two hours, just sitting on the couch, text after text after text. Come to think of it, that might have been her way of joining in my struggle. A way to show me she would stand by my side all the way. At the time, the only thing that mattered was texting as much as I could. (I think I’ll thank her for that now.)

As crazy as it sounds, this gives me something to do besides fighting. It became a silent chant in my mind. “Just one more day. Just one more day. Gotta vote David Cook to the next round. Just one more day.”

It’s become easier to resist now. I guess putting your mind on something else really can help. I have a goal, and not just “to survive.” That’s too generic, too distant. It might seem so far off that I could lose grip. But now, all I need, all I have to have strength for, is Just One More Day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Of Stones and Journeys

We are each the sculptor and the stone. The purpose of our lives is to find the beauty that is within. Inside each of us is perfection. Somewhere, under this stone slab we start out as, is a wondrous statue.

I’ve spent plenty of time working away at it, knowing the truth that it isn’t necessary to add anything to the statue. We aren’t really creating it. We are simply freeing it from the stone prison surrounding it.

As it turns out, I’m not without my mistakes. I had taken my life-altering experience as a chance to re-create myself, in whatever image I saw was the best. So I tried. I wanted to become this great image I had in mind for me. I started to get upset. I wasn’t there yet. Why wasn’t I? What was I doing wrong? Why weren’t people seeing this image I wanted them to see?

It’s true, most of it was identical to who I am. It was maybe two degrees off in a different direction in the beginning. But travel long enough, and those two degrees could mean the difference between London and Timbuktu. I had fallen victim to the very rules I ran my life by. “Willfully turning aside from the truth is treason to one's self.” I had blinded myself to reason to try to add more onto a stone that I should have been chipping away at.

Cut the unnecessary. That is the stone-worker’s job, his passion. That should be ours. We don’t need to turn ourselves into something else, we don’t need to add more responsibilities so we look better, we don’t need to buy all these new things just because they’re out there. Remove what isn’t needed. Shave off another layer.

My life-altering event wasn’t an excuse to glue everything back on to the statue. It was an upheaval. A great many pieces broke off, revealing much of what was underneath. I’ve come to realize that what I need to do is to use what IS, and form around that. There, reason lies. There, truth lies. There, life lies. There, I lie.

Life is your journey, and yours alone. Walk it like it’s the only one you have. Because it is.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Beginning's End

It came back. I can’t comprehend it, what is plaguing me, but something has to be wrong. Something has to be terribly wrong. Swallowing has become so difficult, with this golf-ball sized knot in my throat. Breathing is fine, eating is fine, neither makes it hurt any worse. But living, living hurts.

I went to see my doctor again. He won’t admit it, but he’s as clueless as I am. Something has gone terribly wrong. He knows it’s not a bacteria, but has given me antibiotics just to see what they do.

I hate temperature now. The heat, the cold. If only they would stay for a while. It seems like every moment I switch between sweating uncontrollably to shaking with chills. There has to be some way to cure this.

At least whatever’s wrong with me is draining my strength. I’ll be able to sleep some of the hours away. Or so I thought. My day is spent blocking the pain. As long as I’m forcing it out of my mind, I can’t get any rest. There’s only one way to sleep. Welcome the oblivion. Slowly, I release the walls I’ve set up in my mind. The pain washes over me…I’ve never screamed myself to sleep before, but it looks like I’ll be doing it for a while now. I can’t believe no one else can hear me. At least someone’s getting a good night’s sleep.

No man’s an island, you say? I sure proved that one wrong. keeping myself going one step at a time has turned my thoughts inward, constantly focusing on control. I can’t talk much because of the sharp pain when I forget the walls. Until I lay in bed, I can’t let it take over me. I have to stay in control.

I have to keep working. I have to go to class. They’re the only ways I can keep track of the time passing. Every day is just pain. But at least I’m somewhere else for a while. Even with all this crushing weight on my shoulders, a change of scenery is…kinda nice.

Driving takes the edge off. Feeling the cold wind on my face takes me back to childhood, playing in the snow, climbing the mountain, snowboarding, and for a brief moment, nothing I’m dealing with exists. Eventually, I’ll have to return to reality, but for a second, I am free.

I don’t know when I’ll reach my limit, maybe I already have. But I have to keep going. I’m not sure why, but I have to. Just one more step. Just one more day.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Live and Learn

(I picked a great day to cut back on my caffeine intake…Lucky for me, I have a sense of humor, and can laugh at all the little mistakes my deprived mind made. On to the good stuff.)

By now, I’m sure you’ve read my newest entry, the start of what I assume will be a long series covering a past experience. This, I think, was the entire reason I wanted to start blogging. To get my thoughts out there, rather than leave them burrowed deep within myself.

This will give an intimate view to those who know me of where I’ve been, enlighten those who don’t know what it’s like to survive an ordeal like that, and hopefully inspire a few people to move some of the mountains in their life.

I think I was waiting for the “right time” to start it, even though I had no clue when that time would come. It’s ironic, when you think about it. Waiting for the right time to share a story of how I learned the only time we really have is now.

Don’t you worry though, this isn’t going to be all cloudy skies and rainy days. I’ll be making sure every other entry is about what’s going on now and whatever else catches my fancy. I don’t want to start seeing the past with both eyes. Just one is enough.

To anyone who might be reading this, do not pity me for what I’m about to tell you. I’ve never wanted that. This is just my way of telling my tale, and honoring those who have fallen before me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dancing With Death - An Introduction

“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts;”
~ William Shakespeare

Life has been compared to many things, to a dance, to a boat, even to a box of chocolates. But this comparison plays a tune that I just can’t get out of my head. It’s a grand illusion that life is something we can control, manipulate, and be safe from 100% of the time. It’s foolish to try.

Life is.

It is only after the realization settles in that death isn’t merely the end of life, but an integral part of it, an equal and opposite force, that your eyes can really see all the beauty that exists. This is the moment when life truly begins.

I’ve studied Bushido and read over and over “keep death in mind daily,” understanding the words, but I never realized until much later, just how much deeper those five words go. It isn’t simply an awareness that one isn’t immortal, and death may take you at any time. Even that mentality pushes important things to a later time, thinking that the end will come, but not for a time.

Being touched by death, and still remain living, pulls the curtain surrounding everything in life. Entire mindsets are reconfigured as the realization sets in.

We are born and we die. Everything else is up to us. We can’t choose what happens to us, but we can choose how it affects us, and what we’re going to do about it.

You can let people tell you how to live your life, or you can make a stand and rule your own existence. You can wish for your problems to go away, or you can work to overcome any obstacle.

Or, as was my greatest decision, you can choose to let your cancer destroy this one life you’re given, or you can fight.

This is my story.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shrug out of Your Chains

It's shocking, somewhat funny, and extremely sad how some people's beliefs can be so screwed up.

I've been looking for ideas on what to blog about, (while doing a little reading, gaming, and celebrating my birthday), and today there was a moment that felt like a giant slap in the face.

I can't fathom how another person could believe they have a right to my life, or any part of it. What's mine is mine. What I've earned, I've earned. I'm not so sure it was how I was raised, but it's always been a core tenet of my belief. I've never demanded something of someone simply for my own benefit. But nor will I bow to another who demands it of me.

The very idea that I, being superior to you in some way, shape or form, automatically makes me inferior...I can't understand it. Yet I see it everyday. You need my strength to carry or lift something. I, whose life has given me these muscles, who has exercised and taken care of this body to bring it to the shape it is in now. You need me to accomplish something, yet you come in here demanding I do what you want when you want it, and for absolutely nothing at all. I gain nothing, but must give you my strength? By seeking me to do the job for you, you admit I'm superior to you in this area, yet you throw demands at me like I have to listen to you?

And not only that, but my mind too. My life of reading, searching for answers, researching, thinking, philosophizing, has made me more intelligent than most people. You're aware of this, and you insist I fix your problem for you. Just who do you think you are, shouting orders?

Since when did the weak carry the chains holding collars that bind the  strong? Since when did the fools control the wise?

On the same note, what sense does it make even 'asking' for my aid, when you're infuriated that I declined? If it is a request, a question, then there must be more than one choice. To have only one option, it becomes an order. And as previously stated, you do not order me.

I never liked the idea in elementary school, that everyone has to say "please" whenever they want something, like it's some magic word. They even call it the magic word. I must give up that which I've strived for, that which I've earned, or simply that which I have in my hand, because you said 'please'? But wait, when I do the same, you refuse, and that's okay? I think not. There is no reason in this, it is slavery.

Sure, children should learn manners, to not simply take whatever they can get their hands on. But this "please" business is just a subversion of the very thing you try to avoid. It even holds on into adulthood. You are shocked that your magic word has no effect on me? That I refuse to bow to someone just because they demand it, or hide their demands under a sheathe of courtesy? That I believe a man should be rewarded for helping another, rather than be bonded in slavery?

Wake up. Shrug out of your chains. Live.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where There's a Will...

It's kind of funny how people are so quick to fall in line, even (or especially) when it's something they don't believe in, something they feel is wrong. They may whisper their dissent among the shadows. They may dream of the golden days long past, or the heaven that they imagine is to come far off into the future. They may have grand dreams of vanquishing the foes that stand before them.

But how many will actually do it? How many are truly willing to stand up, to plant their feet on the ground, to draw a line and yell "this far and no further!"? Very few, it seems. It's easy to find people suffering in silence, because they think it is their duty to bear the weight of the world. They think that because someone asked it of them, that just because they have the ability, that gift they possess is their curse that binds them to serving those who cannot, or will not perform. They suffer, and never speak up, never utter a word. Why?

I was not made for this. I didn't spend my life, didn't survive the ordeals I've overcome, just to be pushed around by someone who thinks they own me. And what makes me so special? Yes, I've been through more than most will ever come to understand. But each person is unique, each individual survives situations that could have claimed them. Each one entitled to their life. Yet they willingly shackle themselves, think that another is their better.

Maybe it's because it's easier that way. What purpose is there in putting in the effort to think for one's self when someone else can do it. I'll admit, it's hard work, having to come up with original ideas, not allowing someone else to pull my weight, having to command myself and man up to the consequences of my actions. But the sweet reward of the free, rational mind, and the reward for my actions, is worth every drop of sweat. And there's not a man on earth who can lay claim to what I have rightfully earned.

But what does it take to stand up, above the masses, to believe in yourself, love yourself, and enjoy life? It's the same as anything else in this life. It all boils down to the simplest of equations. All it takes is a thought. A very simple, tiny moment where an idea is born. And to add the fire of will. A thought, and the will to make that dream come true.

You are free to sever the chains of fate that bind you.