Monday, March 30, 2009

On the Art of Overcoming

Okay, I’m finally taking the leap—yes, into the realm of blogs, I go. What can I say; I was a big wimp, only too content to remain in my haven of ignorance. I guess you could say I had a serious case of bloggophobia. I mean, we’re talking about someone who’s managed to avoid reading blogs as if they were the plague, itself. Up till very recently, I had read maybe a handful of blog entries, at best—mostly at the insistence of my writer-friends.

Now, once I came around to the realization that blogs could actually possess some measure of substance, I did some reflecting on why, as a writer, I was so opposed to the idea of blogging, in the first place. For one thing, I know it took me months just to decipher the exact meaning of a “blog,” let alone seek one out to read. In fact, just recently, I learned that the word, itself, is a short-combo form of “web log”—which makes perfect sense, now, but you know how it goes; sometimes the most obvious is the most elusive.

So, what exactly tipped the decision-to-blog balance for me? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I found out that a good friend had been diagnosed with stage-one lymphoma, about a month before. We live nearly 3000 miles apart, so much of our relationship happens via the Internet. Needless to say, I was shocked and saddened by the news, particularly when I considered just how much my friend always seemed the epitome of picture-perfect health. On top of that, she’s eleven years my junior. So, while feeling completely helpless and much too far away from her, I craved information. Luckily, for me, she had had the foresight to document her cancer journey in her blog.

Thus, on that very evening of hearing the news, I read her entire blog; and by the time I’d finished, I’d also unwittingly done a one-eighty on my view of blogging. Suddenly, my eyes were opened. Blogs weren’t just a means for pointless self-expression—rants of egotism masked behind a veil of verbiage. No, instead—and perhaps this is to my friend’s credit—I came away from reading her postings, not only informed but also, strangely, comforted.

And where, you might ask, did I find such reassurance in the midst of a chronicle, pitting human against cancer? Well, despite an acute awareness of my friend’s vulnerability—and all of ours, really, I suppose—I discovered my friend possessed far more courage than either of us ever had reason to suspect she had, prior. Sure, at the painful one-treatment-at-a-time pace, chemo is rendering her physical state defenseless; yet, the depth of her emotional strength cannot be denied. Surprisingly, her blog’s transcending message reveals an unflinching sense-of-humor—less surprisingly, a dose of rare and utter honesty.

Now, I won’t make the claim I’ve been in her shoes—because I haven’t, exactly. But, like most folks who’ve lived through periods of extreme adversity, I’ve come to understand that it’s in such times we feel most compelled to reassess priorities. Suddenly, you’re confronted with all your past foolishness and vanities. You realize it doesn’t really matter if your home is spotless. No, when you’re in the midst of such personal upheaval, you find that you’re operating in what I identify with as “survival mode”—and, so, when your first-grader’s outfit clashes, instead of being mortified, you celebrate the fact that she picked out her clothes, all on her own.

Still, while I've managed to overcome my irrational fear of blogs, my friend’s challenge is infinitely more. Obviously, I wish I could look into a crystal ball and—poof—be assured a guaranteed victory of my friend’s battle is just a matter of time. Better yet, if I could wave a magic wand and make manifest her instantaneous restoration to perfect health. Seriously, how cool would that be? But, unfortunately, cancer is immune to these Disney-esque notions. Anyone who’s successfully beat cancer can tell you, it requires an all-out, simultaneous assault against the C-beast—on all fronts: physical, emotional, and spiritual. No doubt my friend has hordes of medical professionals, doing everything in their power to obliterate the cancer within her. She has a strong, support network of loving friends and family, to lend her all the emotional support she needs to succeed. But most importantly, throughout this trial, she has her faith in God, to sustain her. I know this, because it’s what sustained me on the multiple occasions when life and death hung in the balance, for me. And so, just like then, I pray everyday for God to grant my friend continued strength, trusting full well in her ability to emerge, ultimately, triumphant.

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