Friday, January 22, 2016

Just an earthbound misfit

How about story time with Victoria this evening? We go to the realm of Greek mythology, one of my favorite wells for stories, to talk about Daedalus and Icarus (a very brief retelling). Daedalus designed the labyrinth on the island of Crete for King Minos to cage the Minotaur. He also came up with a plan to help Theseus escape the labyrinth once the Minotaur had been killed. For this, Daedalus and his son Icarus were imprisoned in the labyrinth by King Minos. As they could not escape the island by sea, the only way left was by air. Daedalus created two pair of wings made of branches, string, feathers and wax. He instructed his son on how to fly with the wings and warned him to not fly too high and close to the sun. They donned the wings for their escape and Daedalus led them into the air above Crete. Icarus was young, and immediately was caught up in the delight of flying and drawn to the heavens above. In his rapture, he forgot his father's warning and flew higher and higher. In short time he was close enough to the heat of the sun for the wax in his wings to soften and begin to release its feathers. As the feathers fell away Icarus was no longer able to ride the air and fell into the sea, which now bears the name the Icarian Sea.

This story came to mind a couple of days ago as I was listening to my favorite Pink Floyd song, Learning to Fly, on the radio. The station then played Ziggy Stardust, and I was then reminded of the latest thoughts I'd written down for the blog about the battle language of cancer. It was interesting to me how the song, the story and my notes all seemed to swirl and tie together in my mind.

You see... I've always considered Icarus to be a kind of inspiration. Given the opportunity to reach for the sun, to grasp Apollo's hand, to see the world from such heights - sign me up. Yes, it is a risky endeavor. But life itself is a risky endeavor. And I have always been a "both feet in" kind of gal. Driven by my insatiable curiosity and eagerness, I often find myself starting at the deep end of any endeavor. This sensibility has only increased in the time since my diagnosis.

Pink Floyd says: "A soul in tension that's learning to fly; Condition grounded but determined to try." And that is exactly my current state. Cancer may be slowing me down right now and limiting some possibilities, but I am determined to rise above it. I will not be imprisoned by the labyrinth of treatments, appointments, scans, side effects, worries, and the dirty mess of it all. I will always fly to the sun when given the chance. I am always eager for more knowledge, more experiences, more of the wonders the world has to show. Our world is infinite and ever growing. New books are being written right now, a song is being played for the first time at this moment, stars and people are being born and dying every minute. The whole of it can never be fully known. But, dammit!, I am determined to try

This is the type of language and sensibility that I have used while on my cancer "journey." I never caught on to using the metaphor of war in regards to this disease. Though it is very popular to refer to a patient's "battle" with the dark forces of cancer. I don't know that I very much like the war language. For me, I am not fighting against anything. I am Living despite the obstacles or difficulties or pain or frustrations. I am Living to spite cancer. To show that it cannot keep me down or caged. One of the many articles about Bowie's death last week said something about his courageous battle with cancer. But I think that is the wrong way to talk about it, and especially to talk about his death. He released an album days before he died, and worked to create new things all the while he was ill and going through treatment. This is not fighting... that's straight up hardcore Living. He pursued his passion until the very end.

If this is a battle that I am in, then there is no winning. So why waste precious time and energy fighting when I could be doing so much Living instead. Why fall into the negativity and fear of being at war? Cancer is not my enemy; it is not even my opponent. It is a thing that I have to live with, a constant companion. If I cast it as an enemy, then I have to sleep with that enemy every night. How hard does that make it feel? Why make life any harder? It doesn't have to be that hard. I choose positivity. To stay on the sunny side of the street with my chin upturned and my thoughts lifted. I will pursue passion and not waste my time in the dirty trenches of war.

There was a great podcast that spoke to the language of cancer and the ways in which we talk about it. It is what initially had me thinking about all this. For those that are interested, here's the link to it: The Cancer Show, part 1.

Want to hear my favorite Pink Floyd song? Watch it Here.

And to finish, a beautiful piece of art: The Lament of Icarus: