Sunday, April 21, 2013

Perspective

Thinking Out Loud's been a bit quiet this last week. It's not as if there wasn't much to think about, or enough time to write about them -- I only worked Wednesday and Thursday this week but I was a weird emotional distance from the Boston Marathon Bombing. Fortunately, I wasn't close enough to have the traumatic emotional response that many have; I was three years removed from that. Nor was I far enough away to be completely insulated from what transpired -- I don't think anybody was.

Instead in the initial hours and days after the bombing, I seemed to occupy an emotional middle ground. I vividly remember 9/11 and how I felt then and this event was closer to me than that; yet I still felt slightly detached from the rawness that many people felt.

I was talking (and emailing) with a couple of card carrying members of the Cancer Club about this, and the sense of guilt that accompanied that partial detachment. It's not that any of us viewed the events with apathy or anything close to it, but the same cancer cocoon that protects us from too much negative information coming in, perhaps prevents too much emotion from spilling out, even in the most traumatic non-cancer events. It's as if there are two worlds -- our cancer world and the other world, and that other world is sometimes viewed through a haze from our world looking out.

On Saturday, I thought it right
 to wear my Dana-Farber
Marathon Challenge gear from
2010.  Not only Boston Strong
but also Dana-Farber Strong.
And then I went for a long run today.

I've been running a lot this week, in fact -- today was my 7th run in 9 days and the first time I've tackled my favorite 6-mile loop in probably 3 years. As I settled into my pace after the first mile, my mind settled down too, and I thought of how many of the victims of the attack were runners (either marathoners or casual runners), and how many months, or years, it might be before they can throw on a pair of running shoes and go out for a run on a beautiful spring day.

And I thought about an acquaintance of mine who contracted Lyme Disease and can no longer work.

And I thought of all the cancer patients who were recovering from surgery, or undergoing chemo, or stem cell transplants, or radiation, or all of the above.

A bit of the scenery on my favorite in-town run.
Photo by Mary Motte, from the Barrington
Virtual Art Gallery
Cancer comes with an ample amount of guilt, served up in many flavors. From guilt that what you did somehow caused your cancer to karmic guilt that wonders what you did to amass such dark karma, to guilt that your cancer is "easy" compared to other cancer patients to the more predictable guilt over being a burden to friends and families.

It's one of the perverse ironies about the mind that at a time when we should be most open to receiving, we often feel guilty about doing just that.

But guilt comes not only in flavors, but also in depths. Sometimes you can peel away those layers of guilt, and when you do, you're left at your emotional core...  with perspective.

--Michael

p.s. Adding a link about my fellow DFMC runners, http://www.necn.com/04/18/13/Runners-gather-in-Bostons-Back-Bay/landing.html?blockID=838291