Saturday, March 10, 2012


Between Rocks and the Hard Place

I lost perspective the other day. I did. I started down this path and it forked quite suddenly. Both trails looked the same except one path appeared to have more shade from the trees and the occasional wild yellow flower that bloomed underneath the canopy of the tree shade, which made it all the more pleasant. The other one was barren with spiny rocks that jutted onto the path and I would have to avoid them and be cognizant of their presence every step of the way. My journey could be long or short, I didn’t know, but there was this thought emergence that no matter what, I could always cross over if I had to, if I wanted to. Yet if this was the easy route, why should I not take it? And why even think about the crossover?

The path unwound in front of me and soon the shaded canopy got denser and denser, the sun filtering through the trees, tried as it might, could do little to penetrate the thicket. Meanwhile the darkness that continued to gather brought in the buzz of the mosquitoes and calling screams of hoo-hoo to eek-eek to hwaah-hwaah all merged into a cacophony of a dissonance that burdened my ears. The mosquitoes with their unrelenting zeal shot onto my exposed arms like darts and drew their elixir of survival, leaving behind red angry welts and the prickly branches of the flower bushes scratched the exposed skin and left long bloody streaks. Meanwhile, I walked on remaining psychologically oblivious to this terror, imagining the implied soft cotton balls of comfort, while feeling only the minor irritation of discomfort. No this beautiful path of certainty with its beautiful foliage could not but bring only the most wonderful of sensations onto my person. I continued along the road and soon, I became aware of the thought-feel dislocation that had penetrated my brain. There was a crucial de-linking and as it happened, the fit and feel of the stings and scratches became abundantly clear as to their intent on my body, I could no longer avoid the wrath of this surrounding beauty. I was dying at the hands of this glorious paradise.

I looked to one side and there further along, I could see an opening. I walked up to it as my strength seemed to sap down my legs and out through the soles of my feet. The rubber soles of the shoes seem suddenly to become unstitched to the leather and were flapping along as I came up to the opening. There to the right of me, many miles was the gleam of the other road. The forested land between was thick and impassable and directly before the rise to the other road was a body of dark blue water, so deep in its color, that the fathoms defied a crossing. The gulf between sanity and hurt seemed to grow and despair started to commingle within my spirit of adventure.

Oh the beauty of the foliage remained unblemished in the darkness, the unfeeling eye of a camera would project onto the digital plate a most beauteous of scenery that all would imagine as paradise. There would be a lusty desire to come here and get a salvation for the hurried and tortured souls. Yes they would. I could see that clearly and yet the terror of the beauty surrounding me seemed to prick at the very essence of this holistic, natural and delightful view. What to do? Just plod along till I was battered and bruised and maybe spent off of what ever this thing in me there is that keeps me going along this road of life? Or to take arms against this meandering path of innocent terror, where beauty and implied comfort was admixed with the tortuous and painful reality that was rankling my soul and change direction to go back to the other path with its outcrops of spiny, rocks that one could see and avoid? The known. How?

And as surely as I was drowning in this dilemma of doubt, the canopy seemed to disappear, the overhead clouds lowered and a fine mist began to fall. My vision failing from the mist could just make out the convergence of paths ahead. I hurried my pace as my flesh was being eaten and the soles of my feet were raw with the feel of the bone on earth. The pain could no longer be cushioned, by the soft cotton balls of implied ignorance, by the emotional words with implied feelings, or the musical notes and visions of feathered comfort. No, the reality of pain and discomfort was now aglow in and through me. The comforting words, the lilting sounds, the feather-filled pillows of imagination could not keep the harsh truth away.

My breathing was shallow and came in spurts; an ebb and flow of life. My thoughts were only to rid myself of this calumny and even if it took the virtual world of beauty with it at that moment in time it was the right price to pay. I ached for the path of see and avoid, maybe that would have shown the devil and the dust and not the irreverence of the implied virtual beauty with its hidden hell. I wanted the real thing, badly.

The path merged and after a few steps diverged again. The same scenario unfolded before me. To the right was the path, pot-holed without a shade and the sun drenched vista of rocks and what appeared as a mirage of a lake while the other path now showed a comfortable vehicle and a paved road. I could get inside the vehicle and off my torn up feet and blistered skin and let the vehicle take me to where ever the path ended or…

I woke up that morning drenched in sweat. The sun was still lumbering below the horizon and the golden streak had yet to herald a new day to awaken the rooster. I was to meet this patient early in the morning.

“So what do you think doc?” He said.
“It is your choice, you know. All I can say is that the known, best care is the path of some resistance, The chemotherapy has side effects and it will make you sick for a period of time but in the end you have better than 50-50 chance of being alive 10 years from now. The path that you envision has no hard data. So there is not much I can say about that.”
“But you do agree that chemotherapy is a poison?” he asked.
“Oh sure. It is for the cancer cells. But in the process, it kills a percentage of normal cells. Fortunately the normal cells have a faster rate of reduplication and recovery than the cancer cell. That is how we beat cancer” I replied.

“I do want to live, but I don’t want the suffering to go with it.” He murmured.
“I understand. Unfortunately there are no easy roads in life. The easiest ones most times turn out to be the most difficult ones that cause the most pain and suffering.”

Which path would you choose?

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