From Facing Down the Dragon
In a previous essay, I wrote about slaying a real dragon while I was riding around my neighborhood. While nearly all the medical people think that it was not a dragon that bit my nose but merely a dog, I want to move on to a more relevant discussion. What did this event teach me about life? While I still contend that it was a dragon, be that as it may, I learned something about life while being treated and recovering from my encounter with that deadly dragon.
To put the dragon bit into perspective, I have danced with death twice already. I fell off a ladder causing a traumatic brain injury and had prostate cancer. Getting my nose bitten is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things that I have experienced in my long life. However, it was extremely interesting what I experienced emotionally due to dancing with the dragon while it bit me. It harkened back to the time seven years ago when I danced with death.
In my actual dances with death and the bite by the dragon, I had not done anything to cause any of those events. In spite of it, all three happened. We all think that we are the captains of our ship. If we work hard, we will succeed, which is true to some extent. Nonetheless, we will often experience occurrences that are not related at all to our activity or lack of it. Things often happen without any precursor.
In addition, I felt the similar uneasiness with the dragon chomping down on my nose as I did with the first two dances. Not only was I not in control of all aspects of my life, what control I did possess was severely limited. Much of the real time associated with the first two dances or addressing the bite on my nose was merely waiting until someone or thing from the outside dealt with my problems.
For example, I have had to deal with addressing prostate cancer for over a half dozen years. The surgeon at the University of Chicago Hospital who removed my prostate feared that it had gotten beyond the prostate. Therefore, I had to go back for PSA tests several times a year. After a couple years, the PSA number started to rise again, which meant that the cancer had gone beyond the prostate. My doctor gave me hormone therapy for a couple of months and then added radiation therapy along with the hormones for an additional couple of months.
After the radiation treatment, I had my PSA tested semi-annually for four years, in which I have been cancer free. My doctor now wants me to have my PSA tested annually. While I am relieved and delighted, I will have to have annual check-ups for at least another decade. Essentially, for nearly two decades, I am not directly in control of my medical future related to prostate cancer. Interestingly, I am editing the rough draft of this article while drinking my white chocolate mocha latte at the Starbucks at the café of the University of Chicago Hospital. It is my odd way of celebrating being cancer-free at least for the time being.
Regarding the dragon's chomping upon my nose, I went to the emergency room and was told to see another doctor the next day. When I dutifully saw the doctor the following day, I had to wait another day due to possible infection issues. I waited another day to get a dozen stitches, which were removed three days later. Nonetheless, bandage-like closures replaced the stitches for another three days. Then for the rest of the summer, I had to put sun block on the cuts to avoid further complications.
Another unnerving aspect was just how much sheer chance factors into life in general. Lurking in the corners of all of our lives is a great deal of unpredictability. We are not guaranteed much during life. Just ordinary accidents will occur. Often, they are related to someone or some other event totally unrelated to us. Accidents occur. It is emasculating to realize just how much of life is based upon the luck of the draw.
All those feelings from several years ago resurfaced while addressing the medical treatment in the aftermath of the battle with the dragon. Therefore, the relatively unimportant event of the dragon attacking my nose morphs together with the other two dances that were life threatening. While I waited to get my nose back into shape, I thought about the myriad of feelings rushing back into my conscious thought. After ordering another white chocolate mocha latte, I edited some of what I had learned with my two dances with death and slaying the dragon.
However, in the best and worst of times, we can decide upon what aspect upon which we will focus. It is a simple choice. Find humor where most people will miss it.
Silas Marner was an old weaver who lived in Raveloe. He was just an old, lost recluse until Eppy came into his world. He took care of her, and, in that process, he became a new person. Therein lies an important lesson for each of us.
Eliot made this observation in 1861. A century later in 1961, I memorized that paragraph for Mrs. Davis. However, another half century later I finally understood Eliot's message. We find redemption in places where many never think to look. A child for whom he takes care of gives Silas Marner new life. In showing love for this innocent little child, this old man finds a reason to live.
Where we find our deliverance from the cities of threatening destruction might by a little child or some other person. Nonetheless, look and you will find. Trust me.
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Darkest Before Dawn page to read more about this topic.
Visit the The Last Lecture page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Dancing with Death page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Talking with Objects page to read more about this topic.
Visit the "The Hand May Be a Little Child's" page to read more about this topic.
Visit the Best and Worst of Times page to read more about this topic.