On the beach

Beautiful evening.  I'm awash with emotions.  I've just taken the first walk on the beach since returning from London, and suddenly I appreciate what it means to live near the ocean.  This is why I can't move inland, this is why Minnesota will never work out for long.  San Diego came rushing back to me, but mostly, the feeling that if you could be on the sand, in the water…you could be healthy.  You could live.  You could, maybe, parasail, and join the colorful orgy of kites over the blue-green water. 

Taking big gulps of air, admiring the perfect shimmer of the grey-gold sand, I felt renewed, felt happy again.  Gone was the feeling of blandness, of boredom with the uninteresting landscape.  Here was a great and simple thing:  sand and water, and people strenuously fighting the wind in their sails, trying to bring them onshore.  I wanted to feel their health surge through me.  I could almost remember the rapid beating of my heart and the feeling of my lungs expanding to hold more air.  I've always loved that feeling, and could only get it outdoors.  Stepping onto the sand was all I needed.

I used to be such a "nature freak", holding  Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac and stories of the Round River as my bible.  I loved hiking desolate places like Wyoming's Windriver Range.  I considered moving to Colorado, Montana, Wyoming.  Alas, all landlocked.  I'm tied to the sea.

High altitudes are out, I'm told, because of my condition.  This leaves out a few places I'd hoped to see, like Chimayo, New Mexico.  But, maybe I'll defy that too.  I'll have to make the best of it.  There are plenty of rivers and low-altitude hikes, and shucks, Madame Ocean beckons.  I'll content myself with snorkeling, and cover up from head to toe in an attempt to keep my dragon skin from worsening.  It's silly to even discuss any of this.  It's amazing I talk of future travels, like I have all the time in the world to plan.

Reading Roy Siever's NPR blog My Cancer reminds me that once you have cancer, there's an inability to forget.  No matter how good you feel and perform, even in comparison to those without the disease, you carry the anxiety of not knowing how you'll feel the next day, the next week, the next month…the next trip.  I'll make plans for Christmas, but I truly have no idea if I'll be here.  As Roy so eloquently replied to Ann Romney (Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife), who remarked in People Magazine, "Couldn't I just have cancer and die?", rather than MS, which she was suffering from:

Cancer does not bring a quick death. Cancer is painful and
debilitating. Cancer wreaks havoc on the life of anyone who has it, and
the lives of the people who care about them. Cancer twists the present
and steals the future.
Cancer hurts. It hurts so badly that sometimes
you can barely stand it. Cancer is not something to be sought after.
Cancer is not the lesser of evils. Cancer is the Beast, the Monster,
the Murderer. I know there are diseases out there that are crueler than
Cancer. I know there are those whose burdens are heavier than ours. But
cancer is not an easy way out.

So although it seems like I'm just traipsing about, traveling without a care in the world, the truth is, I'm running from death.  It's impossible, of course, but on bad days I find that all the books and movies and distractions all lead me back to my raison d'etre – Travel, Adventure, Art – to what mystery might await at the next stop.  Surely an appeal of this earnestness could cause Death to reconsider for a few moments longer, and allow Faith and modern medicine to intervene with a remedy to extend my stay long enough for one more excursion into the world I've only read and dreamed of.

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3 thoughts on “On the beach

  1. Way to go. I think you are doing a great job of dancing along the edge. I think it's all in the beauty of the little things. My favorite part om my new home ownership is the chaise in the far corner of the yard, where I sit, watch the sun go down & contemplate life, In addition to smelling the roses it is important to apriciate the different smells. I have been moving to the beach 1 mile at a time for the last 20 years. The sea always calms me.

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