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Monday, November 13, 2017

Forget About It - Part II - Permanent Waves

A simple kind mirror 
To reflect upon our own 
All the busy little creatures 
Chasing out their destinies 
Living in their pools 
They soon forget about the sea... 

Neil Peart (Permanent Waves, 1979)

How does one keep it together when the universe seems set against you? You cling desperately to those you love, that's how. And if you have faith, you cling to it like you never imagined you would ever.

I still can remember the day the doctor dropped the "C" word on me. Not long after I felt like I was all alone. No human truly wants to be alone, I think it goes against our nature. But cancer fights you in weird and vicious ways; and it's relentless. I found that I had to put it in its perspective, finally, but this is not easy by any stretch.

It wears you down after a while; and survival, while the dearest privilege, comes with a price. What price, you ask, can't you just be glad you've made it this far, celebrate your life? Yes. But I have met some people with whom I've had a good relationship that did not make it. Why they should not and I should is a mystery, but finally not up to me. I know some others still fighting that crucial, definitive fight of their life.

One thing the cancer did not count on, or predict, was that love is bigger.

No matter what else happens in your life, only love matters or endures forever. The rest dies off eventually to be forgotten; but love goes on. Forever.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 
 1 Corinthians 13
My faith is integrated into my own life, obviously. But, it took others to bring it forth, most notably my own wife. I always say anything good that is in my life came to be because of her; and mostly that's true.  I have written before about the dedication and love demonstrated by my wife during this ordeal. And again about the memories I have waiting for her to return to my bedside during my stem-cell transplant.

Permanent Waves

I always smile (maybe wryly) and think about Things whenever I see the Permanent Waves album cover, shown here. Growing up I was introduced by my (drummer) friends to the rock band Rush, and I became a rabid fan. Rush has made many, many albums over the years, and of course eventually discussions and debates as to their "best album ever" come up among their fans. I've never had a doubt about my personal choice about this, but it differs from the generally-accepted "best" album (let's say 1984 and prior).

Most people say Moving Pictures is Rush's best work to that date. I also love it, and I understand where they're coming from. That album represents a pinnacle (not the pinnacle) of their musicianship, and the move to the complete album with 5-minute-ish long format.

However, my favorite always was, and is still: Permanent Waves.

This one was released just before Moving Pictures. To me, it shows the major transition in progress in this band; it's evolution in motion. And Permanent Waves is a metaphor on many layers. Without Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures doesn't happen. The album itself is like a wave, both smoothing out and washing away, mixing up what came before, but it's also something to be ridden forward. Like Life itself, this band is never shy about washing away what is in favor of what must be. To me this is the essence of the chaos which is Life: ever-evolving, wandering and seeking in small steps, sometimes catastrophically washing away what we have; but always replacing it with something more beautiful.

And lately I've been attracted to the album artwork (remember when that was "a thing"?). Perhaps now this one is easy to see why I love it. I have to say the casual way the man is waving always makes me chuckle. Living in our pools we soon forget about the sea. Even after the sea has washed our things away how quickly we go back to ignoring the fact that it's in control, not us.

Permanent Waves: Family and Friends

In addition to my wife, my entire family played a key role in keeping me going. And some close friends, also.

This is the day before I went into the Duke Cancer ward at Duke University Hospital in 2014. This day one of our close friends shaved my hair off for me. It seems like a minor thing to do, but someone taking the time out of their own busy day to do this is important to me. I wanted my hair shaved off before going into the hospital because I knew it would fall out anyway.

She had studied the universe her entire life, 
but had overlooked its clearest message: 
For small creatures such as we 
the vastness is bearable only through love.

-- Carl Sagan (Contact)

It's true. For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only though love whose tempo is kept by another Permanent Wave: the beat of our hearts.


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