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Radiation Day 3: Don't Quit Before the Miracle

Radiation treatment is strange. I’m on this table for ten minutes and then they’re like, “See you tomorrow.” By 7:30am I’m halfway through a Blonde Roast having already completed major treatment for the day.

And it feels like nothing is happening. The machine barely even makes sound. The urinal in the lobby makes more noise. I’m starting to get suspicious of these technicians. Are they secretly turning me to an X Man? Are they curing my cancer and giving me a place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?


One of my college classmates emailed me recently and asked if I would sit down for an interview with one of her students. Never one to miss a chance to talk about myself for an hour, I quickly said yes.

I met with him yesterday. One of his questions was interesting. He asked if there has ever been a moment over the course of my career that I considered giving up. I told him that I hadn’t. I don’t consider that to be a badge of honor. A more intelligent person would have giving up years ago. But I have this rare combination of desperation, ego, and stupidity that keeps me clacking away at my keyboard thinking up things to write about. That isn’t exactly an inspiring answer to give to a student. So I thought for a moment, and I told him that the reason I have never given up is that I’ve always been genuinely curious about what is coming next. I don’t want to give up right before the miracle.

After meeting the student I got home and took my nap. When I woke up I sat on the balcony and attempted to meditate. It’s thing I’m doing. I’m trying to “sit” for thirty minutes a day. My friend is forwarding me little zen meditation quotes. Some of them are great. “What is the difference between chasing thoughts or them merely occurring.” Some of them are odd.

Your thoughts are secretions.”

Great. Thanks.

Lots of time my thirty minutes is spent trying not to fall asleep. That’s a strange moment- sitting there, mind blank, and all of a sudden I’m standing naked in my third grade classroom before I realize I’m dreaming.

Yesterday I was doing a pretty good job. I had a good sitting position, the weather was nice. The sun was just beginning to set. My apartment is on the third floor, so I have a view of the tree tops in the neighborhood across the street. So I started at the tops of the trees. The bald branches seemed to be making jazz hands. That made me laugh. For about ten minutes it was just me and these tree tops. Breathing as one. It was a remarkable experience, but I started to get bored. I looked at my phone and realized that I had fifteen minutes more to go. I thought about quitting, but that seemed like a sad thing to to be unable to finish. Who am I if can’t handle thirty minutes of sitting. So I took a deep breath and focused again on the tops of the trees across the street from my apartment. Then the most incredible thing started to happen. The sky started to catch fire. Clouds went from these white puffy orbs to fiery pink streaks. An airplane flew in the distance, leaving a trail of orange in its wake. The sky was so big and I was so small. I was about to quit before the miracle. All we have to do is hang in there. God only knows what’s coming next.

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