I know. You're thinking: no poop, Sherlock. You've been telling us about it for almost two years. And, oh yeah, your column IS subtitled “My journey through cancer...” So, why are you bringing this up now?
Friends, there are just times when I need to say, in a completely unadorned, non-writer type fashion: “I have cancer.” It's not that I would forget, otherwise. Believe me. Even if you know nothing at all about having cancer, I know you'll believe me when I say it's not something you forget about.
Nah, when I tell myself, “I have cancer,” it helps me bring a lot of other things into focus. Most importantly, it reminds me of the wonderful life I'm living. The appreciation I have for my family and friends is so much deeper because of the needs created by having cancer. If you're the type of person who thinks in color- it turns my life from, let's say, a restrained pink to a deep, warm, enveloping maroon.
But here's something that invariably accompanies my “I have cancer” statement. Early in my cancer days, I wrote about not having a bucket list. I still don't. I believe if there are things I really want to do before I die, I'd better get to them. So should you.
That being said, I am baffled, sometimes, when there are things I would do “If only...” If only what? If only I had cancer? But I don't do them anyway.
Look, if I want to sit down and eat a half-gallon of ice cream, why shouldn't I? Okay, it's mostly no longer sold in actual half-gallons, but in containers designed to trick you into thinking you're still getting a half-gallon of ice cream. But, you know what I'm sayin'.
Why wouldn't I just tell myself, “I have cancer. Isn't it a little stupid to be worrying about my weight at this point?” Right? But, good health is an important aspect of fighting cancer, that's a proven fact, and eating a whole container of ice cream is not healthy. There's also my wife, Nurse Ratched. Slipping all that ice cream by her... not gonna happen.
At one time or another, I'm sure you've all made a list of things you want to do or say when it is your last day on a job. Headed for greener pastures, you want to tell off the ingrate who constantly took the last cup of coffee without making more. Or maybe the person who kept presenting your ideas as theirs when the entire staff was working on a project. Then again, maybe you just didn't like the person and wanted to tell them so, and list the reasons why.
My friend Peters (real name unclear) left more than one job with a flash, but my favorite has to be when he was fired on a Friday and ownership, who certainly should have known better, didn't take his key to the building. He came in and moved all the downstairs furniture upstairs and vice versa, just so he could imagine how stunned the people responsible for his dismissal would be come Monday morning.
I know. That was an awful lot of work just to get a little revenge; revenge he wasn't even around to see. But, still, don't you wish you could something like that?
I've made those lists, but have never done anything about it. Partly because I just didn't feel it was worth it, and partly because I didn't want to hurt the other people's feelings. I know, I know. They didn't care about my feelings, But, that's why, ultimately, I can feel morally superior to so many people!
Approached from a certain angle, having an incurable form of cancer can be regarded as the ultimate last day at a job. And I don't have to limit myself to a narrow band of annoyers- people I am finishing up working with. I can do it with EVERYONE.
Let's say someone constantly dominates conversations when you and friends get together by talking non-stop, regardless of the subject. I can just scream at them “Shutupshutupshutupshutupshutup!!” Oh, wait a minute. My wife actually did that to someone once. Well, how about approaching two employees who are more interested in continuing their talk about how fabulous their weekend was, and asking “Excuse me. Is my trying to buy something interfering with your chit-chatting?” Oh, wait a minute. I've done that; quite often actually. Grrrrrrr. Okay. How about this. You're explaining a project to a group and one of them says, “Do you mind if I make a suggestion?” You could say, “Mind if I don't take it?” Oh, wait another minute. I've done that too.
ANYway, I think what I'm talking about is the realization that having cancer doesn't change the basic you. I've said before, I'm a lot more than a person with cancer. So, why would I expect to be able to handle so many situations in a different manner than before I got sick? I'm no more a furniture mover for vengeance now than I was two years ago. Besides, I bet maybe-his-real-name Peters would do it for me, if I needed him to.
So, brothers and sisters, if you were planning to get cancer as a way to set you free in ugly social situations, I suggest you skip it. (My wife is going to hate that I wrote that; but, hey, she once told someone “Shutupshutupshutupshutup,” so, I'm not sure the moral high ground is her's on this one. Besides, I'm trying to make a point.) No bucket list, no “I'm gonna say exactly what I want to” list. Just the list that lets you do the next right thing in each situation.
And if you just HAVE TO make to make some snappy retort in a given situation? There's always, “Oh yeah? Well, I'm rubber and your glue and everything you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!” It destroys them every time. Seriously, people. It does.
There are a variety of versions of the story that gives this blog its name. The pony is the constant in all of them. A man is on his way to a party when he comes across a young boy shoveling ass over tea kettle at an enormous mountain of manure. The man asks the child if he wouldn't rather go with him to the party than shovel all that poop. The kid says, “No way man. With all that poop... there must be a pony in there somewhere