Monday, December 12, 2011

Thinking About Ultimate Things

I went to the dermatologist last week and had a thing removed from my arm.  It was not actually a mole or a wart or anything describable, just the remains of a bump that had appeared and then had come off and then left a small crater of sorts in my skin.  I was not really worried about that at all but the doctor seemed to think it should be investigated so he drew a circle around it with his pen and then deadened the area and carved out a chunk to send to the lab to be diagnosed.  He said he would call me when he received the results.  When I got home from work last Thursday, there was a message on our recorder from the doctor asking me to call him on Monday since they would be closed on Friday through Sunday.  That does not seem like a very practical way of sharing news that could be possibly negative--to tell someone to call you after a long weekend so you can get news of that nature.  Anyway, I did call this morning and found out that the area removed is cancerous, but obviously not a worrisome kind of cancer, as I need to go back to him and have more of that area removed but it can wait until after Christmas.  So, now the waiting and thinking about all the "what-ifs" concerning this situation. 

For some reason, while all this was going on in my head, I began to sing John Denver's song, "Poems, Prayers, and Promises."  In case you don't remember it, it begins, "I've been lately thinking about my life time, all the things I've done and how it's been, and I can't help believing in my own mind, I know I'm gonna hate to see it end..."  Not really a holiday thought but a practical one.  When faced with the reality that one's time on earth but not be forever, then one has to decide how one feels about it.  I like that song because John Denver says more than once, "I have to say it now it's been a good life all in all, it's really fine to have the time to hang around, and lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire...and talk of poems and prayers and promises and things that we believe in, how sweet it is to love someone, how right it is to care, how long it's been since yesterday, and what about tomorrow, and what about our dreams and all the memories we share." 

I am a cancer survivor, not a big major kind of cancer but a melanoma that I had removed from the back of my neck about 15 years ago.  Same kind of thing happened then as is happening now--a mole looked suspect so it was removed and sent off to the lab and the doctor called me and said they needed to remove more so they did and stitched me up and that was the end of that.  So, I have been getting a "mole check" regularly since then and all has been clear up to now.  This was no mole, a sneaky bump that came and went and left a small crater and I figured it was just nothing but obviously it was something.  So, now the final removal of its remains will greet the new year and maybe that will be the end of that. 

But...the "what ifs" will be present all through the rest of the holiday season and into the new year.  What if that isn't the end of it?  What if there is more cancer?  What if this is just the beginning of the end?  I am not a pessimist and I generally think positively about life but when confronted with the possibility that life may end, what is the way to deal with the issue?  There are many people who are dealing with cancer and other dread diseases that are much more serious than what I am dealing with but still there is the concern that this could be more serious than imagined.

I guess I like the John Denver song because it is one of giving thanks for what one has received over the years and being satisfied that life will be enough regardless of length of life.  The simple pleasures are praised and the enjoyment of relationships are the ultimate fulfillment of life.  Perhaps that is what the message of a meaningful life is about--Living each day to the fullest and being thankful for each day of life that we are given. 

I remember when I heard the news about the death of John Denver a few years back.  I was stunned and saddened.  I mourned as if I had lost a personal friend.  I became obsessed for a while to learn more about him and to listen to his music once more, much more than I had been before that.  I had always thought of him as someone that spoke to me because he spoke of what was important to me--ecology, life, friendship, simple pleasures.  John Denver was not a perfect man and maybe he could not even be called a good role model to many, but in his music I found inspiration that spoke to me as he sung.  In his music is the message--make the most of life and enjoy what we do here and tell others how important they are to you.  Maybe that is a gift to give to others at Christmas because it reflects the love of God for all of us in what is important and valuable and worthy. 

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