Life Wish

Hooray! I've made it through my cancer therapy! I'm still nauseous and weak as can be, but the worst is behind me now and there is no doubt that I'll be living a bit longer—probably a great deal longer. The really good news is that I've developed the desire to keep on living ... at last.

It's such a cliché, but my bout with cancer has led me to reevaluate my life and decide to make some changes. For one thing, I'm going to start indulging myself rather than putting things off for the future, or for reasons like, “I don't really need that.” A couple of examples, one small, one big: I can strum a few chords on the acoustic guitar, but I've always wondered whether I couldn't wail on a good electric guitar. I rather highly doubt it, but it looks so easy, and I've never had the chance to sit down and goof with one. So I think I'm going to get me a decent electric guitar and just play with it some. (I was going to buy something from eBay, but then I realized I have a friend with lots of guitars who would surely be happy to lend me one. Asking friends for favors, that's another thing I'm determined to do more of now. It's stupid not too; I well know that we both benefit by sharing a favor.)

As to my big life change, for years I've been saying I want to move out of the suburbs to somewhere with trees and some nature, and maybe far from the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley. I was thinking in terms of retirement, like to Santa Fe or somewhere, but I couldn't ever think of anywhere I really lwanted to live; and besides, work keeps me shackled to the Valley. And with my lovely executive home, what have I got to complain about? But now I'm looking at houses back in the Santa Cruz mountains, probably in the Felton/Scotts Valley area close to highway 17. I've got my eye on a lovely place nestled in the woods with a redwood grove, spacious decks, a huge gourmet kitchen, and incredibly charming bedrooms. I've even put in an offer, though unfortunately I'm second in line at this point. However, I shall keep looking and I'm going to do it, by golly. Moving will also lead to some changes in my work habits. I don't want to commute into the Valley every weekday, so I will either look for work closer to new home, or at least try to arrange a gig that I can work from home several days a week. That should be easy enough with my burgeoning writing career going so well. I may even switch to contracting.

My cancer epiphanies are not only about changing things, however. I've also learned some important insights about who I am. The main thing is that I'm a creative person who needs to remain engaged. I barely watched any TV during my illness, sometimes just because I was too ill, but mostly because I simply wasn't interested. I'm not an observer, I'm a doer. So I need my work, and I need my creative projects for my non-work time. I wonder what my next project will be? Learning the electric guitar? Writing another book? I don't know; that's the tough part, finding the right project. That's why work is so handy—they tell you what the project is, and they even pay you for it.

I also learned that I'm a finisher—and my partner Misha is not. (Please do not be offened, if you're reading this Misha. I love you just the way you are. We're different, is all.) I thank God for sending me Misha, who has been my angel throughout my cancer ordeal. He gets done what needs to be done, and for both of us during this time of challenge. But he's better on starting things than finishing them. He doesn't embody the carpenter's motto: The job isn't finished until the tools are put away. I'm the opposite; I'm a finisher. And I've decided I can live with that and with Misha just fine. I don't mind putting his tools away, cleaning his Coke glasses, emptying the trash. Yes, I know he'll get around to doing it eventually if I leave it be, but I like things to be done, so I do it. I hope he can accept my over-eagerness without taking it as an indictment of his choices, because I really do not begrudge them.

What else? I guess that's about it for now. I'm a few days past my last radiation, and I've still got a lot of nausea, sunburned skin, poor appetite, inability to sleep more than four hours at a go, and a bit of a sore throat. But I can feel myself getting a little better each day. I expect it will be a couple of weeks before I get to experience some of the “good days” I miss so much, but I am on the mend. I can't say I'm glad I chose to accept and live through the horrific treatments, but with them behind me now, I do have a life wish, and I think it's going to be a very good life indeed.

Lannie Rose
September 5, 2008