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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Time paradox

From Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams):

Zaphod:Yeah. Listen, I'm Zaphod Beeblebrox, my father was Zaphod Beeblebrox the Second, my grandfather Zaphod Beeblebrox the Third...
Zaphod:There was an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine. ...


While talking with a fellow cancer patient yesterday, the topic of "time paradox" came up. What does that mean? It has nothing to do with the quote above, but for some reason that popped into my mind.

I define it like this: The desire for time to pass between you and difficult times vs. the desire to not lose a minute more of your life.

Over this past 18 months, I have had times where I much desired for time to pass more quickly. I think we all have this from time to time, and it's usually because of something bad we'd rather forget or at least put some distance (time-wise) between us and it.

Times I wished time would pass away? Here are a few.

  • Hospital stays. Seemingly, nothing turns as slowly as the great Hospital Wheel. I saw the doctor once a day, but most of the time we were waiting on something. I obviously did not feel well. Plus, they do things to you in the hospital you'd rather not have done. I had two longish stays in hospitals in one year, one for 2 weeks, and one for 17 days. I just wanted to be away from there.

  • Surgery or other physical pain. I found myself enduring a lot physical pain over the last year or so. Those are days, hours, you want to disappear. I felt like I just wanted to get in my little space ship and jet away from that place, down the Cosmic Time Line. Pain killers are fine, but those times made me feel like I had to live hour to hour, just get to the next one. Then hours turn into days, days into weeks.

  • That day I joined the "C" club. This was an overwhelming feeling, almost like a bomb going off in your life. This is the one I fought the most against. I felt like I was trapped in a place not of my choosing, and it was unfair that I had to stay there. I look back on my previous writing, and best I can describe it was that my life was "re-organized in ruthless way."

Treatment (chemo) for the cancer is something I want to pass quicker; I'm on a 2-year course of "maintenance chemo". Thankfully, my cancer is "in remission", but who knows how long it will stay there? I want those two years gone, but on the other hand, I do not. Two years could be a significant part of what's left of my life; I don't want to miss it. Chemo steals days from me, and I want those days over. Chemo is the best chance for my long-term survival, though, to break out of this paradox. I treat it more like an investment. Investment requires giving up short-term gains for hope of a greater long-term gain.

I don't know how yet to balance these things. I feel like it's a major part of this burden. Trying to make it less of a paradox and more of a balancing act. Like walking that "ambivalence tightrope" I mentioned before.

In the end, there might be less paradox and ambivalence, but it required effort on my part to resolve them. Having walked to the edge, stared death in the face, and come back, it changed me. Permanently. I had to let my beliefs and feelings guide me back to what's really important. Did I love my family before this? Of course. I love them more now, somehow, because I have viscerally felt their preciousness.

"Don't ever give up". Every day is a gift, and don't you forget it. Cling tightly to what matters, and love it, because today's not coming again, and tomorrow's not promised. Ask me how I know.

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