The Relay Post

The last two Sundays I’ve written these poem like things and posted them for my weekly writing.  I’ll admit I am not a very good poet but sometimes a bit of verse just springs out – unasked for and unplanned.  I don’t craft a poem.  I don’t spend hours thinking about the allusions, metaphor or meter.  It just happens.

Sometimes they’re good and sometimes I delete them before showing anyone.

I wish I could give you a better insight into my creative process but it’s something I barely understand myself.  There are parts I can explain and parts that happen without my knowing how it works.  It’s part gift, part skill, and part discipline.

The gift was given to me by God.  I’ve always assumed it was meant for me to use.  There is just something in my thinking that bends differently than most. I can’t explain it.

The skill I build by doing and learning.  I’ve studied language, woodworking, electronics, math, etc.  These studies include schooling, reading, watching others and the occasional YouTube video.  Then I take the time to do – I write, I build things in the shop and so on.

Then there is the discipline – do regularly.  I’ve managed some discipline, writing in this blog every week – whether I want to or not.  Something I’ve not managed with my woodworking.

There is a further piece to the creative puzzle: nurture the gift.  I think Julia Cameron put it best in her book, “The Artist’s Way,” when she talks about, “breathing in.”  This is a practice where you go out and do something that feeds your creative soul – go to an art gallery, to the beach, take a hike or whatever it is that helps replenish and rest your creative self.  Heather and I find hiking to be this kind of breathing in.

We haven’t been hiking much – life’s gotten too busy at the moment and it affects everything.

But yesterday I did something that didn’t exactly feed the soul but it got me thinking about new stuff.

Heather joined a Relay for Life team.  This is a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society and the idea is that each team has at least one person walking around a track for 24 hours.  They take it in 1 hour shifts and Heather had signed up for 2 different times.

Being somewhat involved with cancer myself, I figured what the heck, I’ll walk with her.

For the record and just in case you aren’t one of the three hundred people I’ve told already – my feet hurt.

There were two parts of the festivities that I found very moving – the opening ceremony with the ‘survivor’s lap’ and the evening luminary lighting.

The opening was a typical event opening, a flag, the mayor, a few speeches, and then the first lap to start the walking.  During this lap, any cancer survivor and their caregiver is invited to take to the track and walk once around – kind of a victory lap.  It was amazing to see the number of people who have been touched by cancer and are still alive.  It is clear evidence that we are making progress in curing the illness.

I did, reluctantly I’ll admit, take to the track and take my lap with Heather – my special caregiver. It’s been only 18 months since my treatment ended and despite the fact that I am still alive I don’t feel much like a survivor.  I can’t say exactly why.  Part is fear that the prostate cancer could reoccur.  Part is that my treatment was so easy to do compared to what others have suffered.  Part is that it is now becoming a distant memory and I’ve almost returned to my old self (expect for one or two new doctors I get to talk to regularly).

The luminary lighting was very special.  Before the event all the teams made luminaries commemorating a loved one who died from cancer or to honor and support someone currently suffering with cancer.  I had made one for my mother, Heather for three members of her family.  These luminaries were placed around the track with candles in them to light the track for the night-time walkers and as a memorial to those we’ve lost and to support those with the disease.

In the bleachers around the track they placed luminaries to spell three words: life, hope, cure.  The last part of the luminary ceremony is the lighting of these candles.  A group of caregivers was invited to come up and start lighting.  The way the stage was arranged had these people enter the bleachers just to the left of the word, ‘life’ so most started lighting that.  Some caregivers, realizing that there were a lot of people working on ‘life’ moved over to the next word, ‘hope’ and starting light it.  A lone person wandered over to ‘cure’ and started light it candle by candle.

As the darkness fell, ‘Life’ lit up first followed by ‘hope’

My eye followed the lone man lighting the ‘cure.’  My heart ached for him – working alone on the most important word to me.  While life and hope burned bright, the cure barely flickered.

Then, slowly, as life was lit and hope was nearly complete, others started working on the cure.  As they moved to the work the cure suddenly burned bright.

There’s a poem in there someplace, but it’s not found form in my mind.

Till next week,

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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8 Responses to The Relay Post

  1. Todd Seals says:

    I love your blog Andrew. You are really a great writer.


  2. gpcox says:

    This was well worth reading and I’m happy to hear of your success. I wouldn’t spend so much time worrying about it coming back as I would about doing all the things you might have missed.


    • Andrew says:

      I don’t really worry about it much and try to live life each day. But I’ve been touched by it and sometimes it catches up with me.


  3. Very cool…I’m in Socal. I was a Classics minor and Linguistics major at Univ of PA. And a helpless writer as well. Enjoying your blog.


  4. I am happy for you for doing so well. Accept it for what it is and stop second-guessing. My doctor told me, at the end of radiation, “Don’t Be a living cancer patient. You’re cured. Enjoy your life.”

    And if it comes back and he was wrong, at least i’ve had some reasonable amount of carefree time in my corner.


    • Andrew says:

      But second guessing is one of my better skills. 😉

      The further I get away from treatment the easier it gets.

      Soon, I’ll get to go on my summer camping trip and will fully enjoy all the time I’ve been given there.


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