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Nonelective surgery

“I’ve got the apolitical blues. And that’s the meanest blues of all.” – Little Feat

kensguitars11-2016On Thursday my son Chris will be on a red-eye flight from Oregon in order to be with his dad during surgery the next day.

I am having my prostate removed because I have cancer. Thankfully, two malignant lesions appear to be contained within the gland and my surgeon and oncologist are very optimistic.

So are Denise and myself. We feel lifted by many friends and our family showering us with prayers and good thoughts. Naturally, it’s been an unsettling few months after a biopsy and MRI uncovered this.

I debated whether or not to blog about my situation, so here is why I decided to write.

This is not a woe-is-me scenario. Each of us knows others who have undergone devastating illnesses, or have ourselves experienced tragedies and setbacks far worse. My prospects are fine.

My wife, my soul partner, is with me always–as are my children, Amanda, Chris, and Mike. If anything, I worry most about the load on Denise, her natural fears, even an avoidance of really taking care of herself during my recovery.

We’ve both prepared pretty well for this. We are fully informed about the surgery and its ramifications. We’ve taken time to reflect, meditate, and try relaxation methods gearing up for the procedure. I’m playing a bit more guitar and look forward to really digging in, trying to be centered and expressive. Several great books are lined up, and our two dogs will be happy to have me more sedentary—for a short while, hopefully.

Whatever your position, take a stand with an open heart.

Yet I have to admit, besides a slight-to-surging angst about my surgery, the vicious mood heading into the election is unsettling. It’s toxic.

As much as I’ve tried to prepare putting myself in a good place, the juxtaposition with the Nov. 8 climax is jarring. Negativity feels inescapable. It can set one back.

I’m not entering a political rant here. Bonds of friendship far exceed any differences in our opinions. If there’s one thing I’ve learned regarding relationships I care about, it’s to listen and appreciate a different stance. I welcome those conversations.

Instead of this type of dialogue, in defiance of the norms of factual persuasion and compromise that make a democracy work, on a national level we have the opposite.

And on a local level, or among contacts through Facebook and other social media, I’ve never seen such distortion and disregard for facts. Everywhere you turn, someone is spewing innuendo and spin, if not outright vitriol against the other side. The fear-mongering and hatred coming from some quarters, couched in coded words for decades and now out in the open, is staggering.

“I don’t care if it’s John Wayne. I just don’t want to talk with him now.”

Both candidates are mightily flawed; most of us wish we had other sensible options. But we should all respect one another’s rights to differ—hopefully based on real representations and policy choices, not on ignorance and distortion.

I’ll step off the generalized soap box now. The main thing I want to offer is this:

Whatever your position is, take a stand with an open heart.

Be open to other arguments and contexts you don’t know; stay open to others’ experiences, to the frustrations about to boil over; be open to how words inflame actions against the powerless and those often preyed upon. Take a close look before you judge. Try to stay open, rather than closing to the other side.

When I was teaching high school, I had this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. affixed to a classroom wall. I believe it applies in this context.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Where does your heart stand? Open—or closed?

If we choose the path of vengeance and righteousness, led either by elitists or demagogues, won’t more of us just drop out? I’ve got my guitar and a bubble of seclusion waiting.

The telephone was ringing. They told me it was Chairman Mao.

I don’t’ care if it’s the ghosts of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil toasting after work. I just don’t want to talk to him now.

This Post Has 10 Comments
    1. Much appreciated, Patty. I hope all is well with you and yours — Tom keeps me posted on the political scene up there! Best, Ken

  1. Dear Ken, I will keep you in my prayers. Wishing you the best possible outcome. A big obstacle for certain but something you will overcome I am sure – with such an amazing wife and family always by your side.
    Leyla Nickerson

  2. Ken, as always you come at a situation from all sides. My thoughts and prayers are with you and remember Jim & I have experience on this road. ?❤️

  3. Ken, wishing you a speedy recovery. So glad to hear the optimistic prognosis. It has affected quite a number in my family, and I’m happy to say, they are all doing well.

    Regards to Denise. Looking forward to your updates.

    Bill B.

    1. Bill, thanks very much for reaching out. Recovery may be long but going well so far, making adjustments, and our “kids” were here until yesterday, such a great lift. That’s good to hear about your family members — this seems to affect so many. Will stay in touch –

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