It is.

So it is.  I feel as if I’ve descended from second base camp to first base camp.  I’m off the summit, but I still have a ways to go yet before I’m home.

My treatment finished Monday and ended in hugs with my practitioners.  I celebrated at Swan’s sitting at the tile counter with a bowl of clam chowder and a pint of anchor at 9:30 in the morning.  I came home and slept.  I went to Spirit Rock in the evening for a meditation session and a talk.

Yesterday I did laundry and cleared my desktop and began to pack.  It’s taking longer than expected.  My face has a second round of red burns, my mucus still sticky and gaggy.  Taste buds deadened.  But overall I’ve done really really well.  Remarkably well.  I’m very happy.

This year began with a CT scan and a fine needle aspiration and a diagnosis.  And some of you grimaced and counseled me to belly up. And then I was strapped in.  And eight months later the ride (or at least this part of it) is almost over.  In that time: a half dozen consults,  a marathon along ocean cliffs, a run through a blizzard, trips to Phoenix, to San Francisco, a train journey to San Diego and back, travel to Salida and Beaver Creek, Colorado, and San Francisco, and Philly and Lancaster.  Adopted an Amish kitten.  Weddings and travel to New York and Vermont and Hopi and again to San Francisco.  Planting, and digging grubs and ants, and tending hundreds of plants.  Several deaths.  Massive teeth cleaning for the first time in 13 years – thank you Hopi Health Care.  A growing roster of brand new friends and renewed friends and a deepening group of very old friends.  A deft, protracted incision.  Healing.  And six weeks of low dose fire.  A blog.  Finishing the Border Trilogy and beginning Everything is Illuminated.  I bought a phone.  Ate a lot.  Delicious things that eventually were transformed into the absolutely undelicous.

Feeling so happy to go back to where we presently live.  I want the sky so bad.  I want our friends.  I want silence.  I want the simple.  I realize more than ever what we risk losing of we were to ever leave.  Losing something that most people never even experience.  And for what?  Most likely too much of too much.

I no longer give a darn about those hundreds of things left undone.  Instead I sleep.  I love my wife.  I love my daughter.

In cleaning up I stumbled across the note I scribbled to Mazie a few minutes before I went into surgery on June 17th.  It was scrawled on the back of my authorization form.

Dear Mazie,

  • Remember always to laugh and to make others laugh.
  • Do your best.  If you refinish a bathtub or tile a wall, do it so it will last.  If you play Pachabel or Vivaldi, play it beautifully.  Make it sing.  Do your best.
  • If you drink wine or eat cheese, eat the best.  Learn to discern the best.
  • The best pot of beans are the most simple:  beans, good water, good salt, one onion, lard.  Remember to keep ti simple.
  • Finish what you start.
  • Learn to tell a story.  Then tell them.  They make the world a better place.
  • Appreciate everything: the taxi cab, the driver, the I.V., the table cloth white and crisp, now stained with a single drop of berry juice, the smile, the names, each person’s unique story.  They all are gold.
  • Make good friends.  And do right by them.
  • Sing.  Sing.  Sing.
  • Every street corner, every barista, every vista, every shift in temperature is an adventure.
  • Breathe.  Remember to breathe.
  • At Hopi farming is a religion.  You can spend a lifetime coming to understand why.  Try.
  • We choose life because it is hard.
  • And the difficulties are what make it worth living.
  • Most things that are easy are not worth having.
  • Choose the uncommon path.
  • And if you ever have to choose between picnicking at John Boy’s house on Walton’s Mountain or eating beneath the billboard advertising the place, by all means choose the mountain.

I love you forever and ever my blood.


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