Worries, Fears and the Rocking Chair
I have heard it said that worry and fear are similar to sitting in a rocking chair. You put a fair amount of energy into it, but it doesn't really get you anywhere. Two-and-a-half years ago, I was sitting on a park bench in Brooklyn Heights with my friend, Steve, discussing my worries about moving abroad and how scary it was. He put his hand on my shoulder and smiled.
He said, "That's not scary. This is scary." He pointed to the right side of his throat. He had undergone a year of chemo and radiation to combat a squamous cell carcinoma at the base of his tongue. In a week he would be going for surgery to remove the cancer. The doctors were "95-percent positive he would be left with a fully functional tongue."
I suddenly felt very small. He could see the look on my face and squeezed my shoulder. "It's OK. I would've felt the same way 2 years ago." I stopped worrying (mostly) and simply lived my life. Now I'm enjoying one of my greatest adventures ever.
Steve woke up a week later, not only without a tongue, but with only half a jaw and a permanent tracheostomy. He was initially devastated. He quickly started investigating electronic ways of communicating, how he could enjoy being in the water again (he was an avid swimmer, diver and sailor), and how he could start to redefine his life. There was no sitting in the rocking chair going nowhere for him. He and his partner, Eric, got married in their hometown of Toronto, Canada. I saw a wonderful photo of Steve in an inner tube paddling around in Oyster Bay, NY, last summer. He couldn't dive any more but he was back in the water!
I got to see them last January when I returned for the annual meeting of our sailing club. Steve had lost a lot of weight and had a problematic burn wound to his throat, but he was there having a grand time. Through his communicator, he told me he was thinking of starting some writing or artwork. There was the possibility of taking his already excellent photography skills to a new level. He was full of hope.
Things continued to worsen for him though and on Friday the 25th of February, he passed on. In honor of him, I will not put more time and energy into things like worry and fear that don't really get me anywhere anymore.