Ice water rushed down my back.
Bone-chills. Sweaty palms. Heart races.
Spooked, I twitched a glance over my shoulder. Just the dog...unsettled. Does he know something?
The kids burst into the room, joyfully embracing after school freedom on a cool, autumn evening. The circled the kitchen, foraging, and flashed out into the yard like two roman candle bursts—all light and color and energy and...life.
Their shooting-star brilliance filled my world for a moment, burning away my chilled fear—but only for a moment. In their wake I remained—unsteady, shaken, but upright and mindful.
I've been through this before.
I have the confidence of hard-won experience. I've learned. I've grown. It's just a message...it could be anything.
I'm blessed with the love of a wonderful woman, whom I hardly deserve. I'm humbled and honored to be the father of two girls who amaze me every day. I'm connected and supported by loving, caring, devoted friends and family.
"Good morning, I'm Wheelsucker. I received a message that Dr. ___ needed to talk with me about some test results."
Some test results. So insouciant. What a poseur. I guess if it helps me manage my anxiety...
"Just a moment Mr. Wheelsucker. I'll see if the doctor is available."
Muzak. "Just the Way You Are." Thanks Billy. Not right now. How about some Smiths, please, so I can feel sorry for myself. No, this is more a Nine Inch Nails kind of morning...
"Yes." I knew her voice.
"This is Dr. ___." I know! Get on with it! "I wanted to touch base with you about your blood test results."
Good sweet mother of all that is holy and not-so holy. Tell me! Tellme! TellmeTellmeTellme!
"I understand. I'm all ears." How composed. I impressed myself.
"Well, I want to congratulate you..."
Warmth flowed through me. Somewhere inside the Ode to Joy echoed...just outside my hearing.
"...your numbers are completely normal..."
"...across the board. You've done very well. You are in remarkable health for your age. Congratulations!"
I know I thanked her for telling me directly. I expressed real, deep appreciation for the caring and the support. I have no idea if it came out in anything like English. I babbled...
"We just need to send the results..."
And so it went. Details. No problem.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
We'd celebrated prematurely. It haunted me.
We were beholden to a date, but I hadn't taken my test. I'd done my homework—I was fit and living a healthy lifestyle. But we held the graduation party before I took my final.
Partly logistics—making the time took time that I didn't want to spend.
Partly laziness—everything felt fine! Everything's okay!
Mostly, it was fear.
Yep. I was scared.
"What if..." reigned.
What if the cancer returned? What if I need chemo? What if it's a new cancer? What if...
How many of us are ruled by What If...?
How often are we held back from what we should be...could be...by What If...?
It's a trap. Fear is the mind-killer... It's an elegant, infernal, impersonal, intimate trap.
We're not held back by What If...
We're held back by ourselves.
The challenge is to master it. The task is to overcome doubts and fears and move into a new space.
And it's hard. It's damned hard.
But it's possible.
And it's necessary. If we are to become; if we are to thrive.
Sometimes It's Hard Not to Think
After sitting on my test paperwork for a month, one morning I simply stopped thinking and did it. It was that simple. Okay, so I exaggerate. I needed to fast, so it was per-meditated. But you get the idea.
It's like the day I decided to take my 215-pound fatty, slovenly, grey-skinned carcass to the gym for the first time. I simply did it. I stopped thinking and I did it.
So, yes. It's hard to not think. But sometimes we simply have to get out of and beyond ourselves to stop being a barrier to our selves.
"Sometimes I suspect that we build our traps ourselves, then we back into them, pretending amazement the while."
All limitations are self-imposed.
When we get out of our own way, what might we accomplish? What might we learn? Where might we go? How high might we fly?
Let's find out, shall we?