Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The C-Train

I have written several posts since I started this blog about maturing, about growing up and growing older. Part of this transformation with the passing years is gaining a certain amount of humbleness and needed perspective regarding our frail human nature. When we were children, most of us lived life with reckless abandon, fully convinced that nothing could ever stop us or slow us down. However, at some point in each of our lives, we come to understand that we are finite (see Invincibility Lost). For me, this moment occurred with certainty when I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30. For others, this moment comes later in life, perhaps when they recognize that they can't keep up with their grandchildren.

I have been living under the shadow of the tracks of the C-train for a long time now. The train passes over from time to time, always coming upon me unexpectedly. Although I never look forward to its appearance, I have learned to accept its presence and, I would say, make peace with it. Initially I was swept along through the current of those usual five steps of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. When I finally reached the point of acceptance, it was then that I found myself able to live again. It took a long time, but the bubbling fear within me eventually quelled. I can now talk about my experience not as the end of my world, but just as a part of my life, even if someday that train finally takes me away.

Recently, an older colleague of mine at work was diagnosed with lung cancer. He found out that I was a member of the C-train brotherhood and stopped by my office to talk with me. We talked about our lost invincibility and how it shapes our outlook toward tomorrow. I think by the time we were done with our conversation he felt blessed that he had already lived a long life with good health. When he left my office he then turned and winked at me, "everything else from here on out is gravy". Now that's a different train entirely.