It's better to burn out than to fade away
This quote is generally attributed to Neil Young, from his Rust Never Sleeps album in 1979. It was used later by Def Leppard on their 1983 Pyromania album. It was used later in the 1986 movie Highlander.
I'm not really a fan of Neil Young or of Def Leppard. I remembered it by the Highlander reference because it's one of my favorite movies.
This can be interpreted a few ways, or for you Kurt Cobain fans, tragically misinterpreted. Beyond this, these earlier quotes below illustrate more what I'm talking about here. The interpretation I'm looking for is one of living purposefully and not just fading into oblivion, not necessarily burning out like some rock star. Keep on trying; don't ever give up; leave some kind of legacy behind and positively impact anyone you can reach.
My candle burns at both ends It will not last the night But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light! Edna St. Vincent Millay
This is the poetic winner.
A lot of this really applies to anyone's life, whether you have cancer or not. Our Earthly lives don't go on forever, so guard those minutes lest they slip away never to be lived again. If we can just achieve what Ms Millay is getting at. Hopefully our light falls on others in a way that is not only lasting, but also bright and warm.
I try to keep a balance between living a "bucket-list" oriented life with one that is still active, but serves more purpose than fulfilling my personal wish-list. It's more important to me to spend time with my family, first and foremost; and with my close friends. In the end, it's all we have, and it's all I have energy for any more. Any "frenemies" situations or other man-made BS, douche-ery, self-righteousness, I'm not interested; at all. And I might just tell you so.
It's better to wear out Than rust out
One of the flip-side views on this "burn out" interpretations hit me lately, too. Recently I've felt like I'm burned out on my treatment regimen: chemo every two weeks, dialysis labs once a month, dialysis clinic once a month, dialysis every single night. Throw in a few bonus labs and Duke or UNC visits.
I've said before our current life is like running to stand still. We're always chasing time around here. We have three children with a lot of activities, so balancing in full-time work and free time into all this is quite difficult. It might not seem like much, but see if you can take, on average, a two-hour chunk of time every single week, during work hours, dedicated to medical care. And time for scheduling appointments, talking to nurses, insurance, whatever. And days of degraded quality after chemo. The effects of it usually don't hit until some hours after treatment, meaning times after work when I'd rather be doing something else than laying in bed.
And take 10+ hours out of every 24 for dialysis; that's the real time killer. When I'm not too tired in the mornings, I do work or catch up on e-mails or social media (yea, I now do a little again), but not too often. Most days I'm very fatigued in the mornings. As I wrote before, cancer is hard, but on a day-to-day basis, dialysis sucks worse.
I'm still more of a night owl than a morning person. I always was. There's no option to go to bed at midnight and get up a 6am or 7am to beat the traffic any more. No stealing sleep time to make up for other things. Spending time in traffic seems like a ghastly thing to me now, such a waste of time. It's not like anyone else wants to waste their time sitting in traffic, either, but they can steal hours elsewhere; I can't.
Never Fade AwayThis occurred to me a few weeks ago just when my head was getting shaved during a "second birthday" celebration. My buddies and I had pledged to shave our heads if we could raise some money for Duke and UNC Hopsitals, and we did, over $2000 in just about 10 days time.
The "it's better to burn out..." thought just popped into my head, mostly because of the image of the bald Kurgan saying it in the movie. I don't identify with going around terrorizing people in churches (or anywhere), but it was the image: I was becoming bald again; and what the hell, lately I had been feeling like I was fading away, and not burning; I needed to fix that.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.