I’ve got a 10cm mass in my small intestine. The diagnosis is non-hodgkins lymphoma but I’m not sure what stage it’s in. This week will consist of another battery of tests to pinpoint the diagnosis: ct scan, pet scan, bone marrow biopsy (which I hear is awful). From there we’ll start discussing the treatment specifics. So far from my initial call with the oncologist I’m facing 6 months of chemotherapy, possibly with radiation.

This is all quite an interesting mental exercise. It helps that I’ve tried at least to ponder these scenarios being a fan of war films, stoicism and generally living a disciplined lifestyle. But this is way different because it’s real. There’s a weight involved here that is really hard to simulate in one’s mind without the pinch of reality.

I’ve always found solace in reading and thinking about hardship (Shackleton’s expedition, Lincoln’s presidency, anything related to world war II and the holocaust, etc.). This is because these kinds of stories recalibrate my reality and I become thankful for all that I have…at least I have food! I could be stuck in some Siberian Gulag!. For the past few weeks I’ve been recalibrating my reality on a daily basis.

And I find myself coming back to a single question: what is precious?

I could here cite thousands of mini vignettes and observations (Lua’s 4 top teeth + that wild twinkle in her eye grinning at me at 3:30am “datita!”).

This diagnosis so far is a gift. It seems like everyone says that. But I really believe this in my core. Feels like a wind of clarity blowing through my soul. The image in my head is one of fall trees in New England. There’s so much crap in those tall trees deep into Autumn: birds nests, sticks, branches, rotting leaves. With the approach of winter shocks of wind clear that out in a hurry, leaving beautifully stark silhouettes of trees against the clean backdrop of winter. Only the essential bones remain, ready to live again when the conditions improve.

From behind these eyes the unfolding of nature and universe is processed, understood. Consciousness is nature reflecting on herself. A noble way forward is to be clear in these reflections, decent in our dealings, giving in our nature.

If nothing else the idea of cancer clears the cruff of day-to-day normal. I feel like a dusty window is getting cleaned.