Although one never knows, especially if that one is living in "cancerville." And by "cancerville" I mean, euphemistically speaking, anywhere where one of us diagnosed with cancer is living. Living being the operative word. Still, as my column from a few weeks ago entitled, "Dying With Curiosity" discussed, cancer patients are often besieged by their subconscious, changing fact into fiction and manipulating feelings into inevitabilities. If only there was a switch to turn off the mind games that don’t exactly mind their "man-ners" or "women-ers" for that fact, I’d flick it in a second. Cancer creates physical problems – as we all know, but I have to tell you, it’s the mental problems that can be just as deadly.
It was in this column that I attempted to flesh out why I was – at this particular point in my cancer career – thanking people, people I had never previously thanked and people who quite frankly needed thanking. But was I thanking them ("I Thought You Were a Goner" and "Thanks, Coach") because it was the proper thing to do, or was it my subconscious cashing a check that I had not realized needed to be written – if you know what I mean? And if you don’t, to clarify: did my subconscious know something that my conscious mind had yet to find out? Was I in fact getting things in order before it was too late?
Conversely (oddly enough), my columns published over the most recent two weeks were what we call non-cancer columns: "Father and Son ‘Twogether’" and "A Tale of Two Seasons," as if a didn’t have a cancer thought on my mind, subconsciously or otherwise, that needed to be written. No feelings – or facts for that matter, about cancer that one might interpret as creepy or curiously prophetic, given the terminal diagnosis with which I live every day. No. Just normal, everyday-type minutiae that those familiar with my first 10 years of columns published in this space (I guess we’ll call them pre-cancer columns now), are likely familiar. Topics ranging from the mundane to the ridiculous, as if I didn’t have a care in the world; certainly not a cancer care, that’s for sure.
And so it dawned on me: were these two columns ("Father and Son ‘Twogether’" and "A Tale of Two Seasons") examples of my subconscious mind once again exerting its power over my conscious mind and providing fodder for non-cancer columns because it could? Or was this my subconscious mind telling me to relax and not think so much, especially about the two "thank-you" columns: "I Thought You Were A Goner" and "Thanks, Coach")? Either way, it seemed to me an odd juxtaposition of material over a 4-week period: two columns that contemplated death (sort of) and two other columns which contemplated nothing, really, certainly not death, anyway.
The upshot of which has been to unburden me a little bit, to make me a little less focused on the presumptive path that lies ahead and instead direct me onto an alternative route, one that features more future and less past. I’d like to think I can live like that; I just hope my subconscious mind has no more to say about it.