I’m not going to lie, it’s been a rough week, for a number of reasons, not least being that I’m coming up to one year since my surgery for prostate cancer. Right now I’m in the clear, but you’re never entirely in the clear with cancer.
The thing is, I anticipated that I might feel weird around this time. But knowing the train is coming doesn’t make it any easier when you’re tied to the track.
It’s been a year of adjusting to changes in my body, a daily reminder that I’m the same, just different.
This is particularly true in my perceptions of my masculinity (such as it is). It’s as though my dog ran away. The doctors assure me, “Oh, your dog will come back. It just might take a while. But he’ll come back.” But what if he doesn’t? I mean, it’s been a year. I haven’t had a dog in a year. I loved that dog. I played with that dog all the time. Just loved taking that dog out. Poor dog.
The anniversary also coincides with my birthday, and getting older is turning out to be a lot less fun than I thought it would be. Maybe I’ll feel better once those senior discounts kick in, because I may not be young but I’m cheap.
So I’ve been blue. Moody. I’ve been having trouble concentrating. I’m tired. I’m cold. Is this February? No, it’s only November. Sigh…
And you know what? It’s okay. I have to tell myself that. It’s okay to be sad. It doesn’t feel good, but sadness is part of being human. We hate to experience it, and we certainly hate to be around it. (“How was the funeral?” “So-o-o-o fun!”) But we shouldn’t dismiss it as a failing. It’s normal to get sad.
Besides, we need the darkness sometimes to appreciate the light.
Earlier this week (when I was feeling low), I opened up the Poem of the Day from the Poetry Foundation. It was called “Happiness” by Jane Kenyon. It begins:
There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.
And so a year has passed and I’m another year older. With any sadness that brings, I turn to a very simple, happy fact: I’m another year older. I’m another year older!
And I think of all that I’ve accomplished in that year.
I directed my original play, and people came to see it, and they liked it.
I went to the ocean, which, like subscribing to the Poem of the Day, I highly recommend.
I set a writing goal for myself to get published again on my favourite humour site, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. And I did! Four times! Plus, one of my McSweeney’s pieces is included in their 3-pound, gilt-edged anniversary collection, Keep Scrolling Until You Feel Something.
I was in a play, acting foolish and forgetting myself for awhile. People saw it, people laughed and forgot themselves for awhile.
I saw The National in concert.
I published a new collection, A Jerk in Progress, although it’s selling terribly, so get with it people!
Abby graduated high school, James is a Gaiter, Em and Katie are happy city girls.
Deb brought me a warm chocolate chip cookie in the bath that time.
I’ve enjoyed more baths than is especially seemly but there it is.
I’ve been writing, working on a thing. It’s quite terrible, but I’m writing.
I’ve come up with a number of “that’s what she said” jokes for someone in my condition. For example: “There now, that’s not so hard, is it?” And “So I go into this bar, and against the wall is this beautiful Hammond B3: shining mahogany, gleaming keyboard, fully intact. I sit down to play, turn on the power: nothing. Turns out all the electronics in the back have been torn out, hollow. What a useless organ!”
So, you see? It hasn’t been a total bust.