Thursday, December 30, 2021

Finding Joy in an Uphill Battle

 I’m waiting in a massive line. It doesn’t really matter why I’m there, it just matters how I feel in that moment. I’m standing on a steep incline, and soon I start to shift uncomfortably. As a teenager I always carried a deck of cards and a hacky sack in my tattered purse. So, I start kicking the hacky sack around, knowing it will even make strangers my friends. Others in line introduce themselves and form a circle where we can all play. 

I soon discover the power of words. Having an epiphany that if you ask the right questions it’s like getting a key to someone’s door. You can find out all sorts of amazing things—and learn so much—if you dare to ask the deep stuff….  It’s like a shortcut to the soul.

“I’ve never told anyone that,” a woman says, serving the hacky sack to the man next to her. “I feel so relieved that I’m not alone.” She smiles at me.

“I think we’ve all felt like that at one time or another,” a gypsy-looking girl says, with the wispy voice of a fairy. 

But the hill makes things difficult—even for budding friendships. We persist for a bit, but after a while, the sun beats down unapologetically, and we all grow tired. 

I decide to try resting. Nobody cares because even my new buddies are doing the same thing. I fluff my ragged purse on the ground and use it as a pillow, but the hill isn’t comfortable, the gravel bites into my hip and shoulder, and the deck of cards only adds to my lumpy purse. I roll but no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get comfortable on that hill. 

After an eternity, a man yells, and I see that employees are finally letting people into the event. We all press forward, like a d*mn herd of cattle. Everyone looks relieved. And I’d never been so happy to be on flat ground in all my life.


For some reason as I tried resting today, I couldn’t help remembering that day as a teenager, when I tried sleeping on a gravel hill. That’s what cancer has become for me. I’m in the same reality as everyone else—we’re all shooting for universal commonalities (some kind of purpose), but I’m on a hill, just fighting so hard to be on flat ground again. Nothing is ever “quite” comfortable. And this realization…has me reeling.

Life simply is that way right now. There’s no changing it. I’m in a fight to live—and I’m just not ready to get out of this metaphorical line yet. 

Cancer isn’t easy. Hell, LIFE isn’t easy, even when you level the playing field. 

I guess it’s just a matter of finding the good things, like my hacky sack or enjoying the utter magic of meeting strangers and hearing their stories. 

Despite a terrible incline—or whatever struggles YOU might be facing—there’s still magic around you. For me, I just need to keep filling my “purse” with good things (goodbye, baggage), and I should also remain spongelike, learning as much as I can from the people I’m lucky enough to know—especially Mike and my children.

I might be stuck on a relentless hill, but d*mn it if I won’t keep having fun along the way.

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