Thoughts Before the Knife
I am terrified.
I am courageous.
I have braved so many things that terrified me. Things I thought I’d never survive. And here I am, “having survove.”
I understand that my fear is born of the unknown, where the most potent fear often makes camp. While this is a brand new experience that has no equal, no comparison, I know more now about what is happening to me than I ever have before. And each time I learn more, I have one more tool in my tote to get this job done.
I say frequently that You have to be able to recognize your truths in the daylight before you can find them in the dark. But the horror stories. Yes, there will always be those. But they are most noteworthy because they are rare and that makes them of interest. We live in a sensationalist society. One only has to watch the news to see that paradigm in action. If it’s scary or gruesome or shocking, it’s the lead story. (If it bleeds, it leads). But that does not reflect the entire sampling of human experience. Just as a double-blind study, and a large sampling over time renders the results more accurate, so does the realization that what we fear is not a realistic criterion to base our decisions–or even our feelings–upon.
My mind chants, I hope the surgeon cares as much about his job as I do about mine. And while I do not compare the gravity of being a surgeon with the creativity of being an author, I do know that the sensibilities are likely the same. Like that surgeon, I have spent almost three decades honing my craft. Three decades practicing it, and I never ever let myself fall prey to the hubris that tells me I’ve mastered it, but I do know what I can do. And that I can write. I do know that when I place myself in my work space, with the task at hand, I know what to do and how to do it. I have the support of others, the foundation of years of study, the mind that can adjust to changes or challenges, and above all, the desire to give it my best. How much more must a surgeon care about his work, when he holds the life of another in his hands?
If someone were to say to me (as some have), “I don’t understand how you can write a whole book. I can’t even comprehend writing 70 or 100 or 150 thousand words, just pulling all that from my brain…” I can only reply that it is my passion, my calling, the nucleus of who I am; and I tell them it is something I worked hard at my whole life; and not only that, but I know I can do it because I have done it. I have done it repeatedly and successfully, and it is as much a part of my life as eating and sleeping and breathing.
So this fear is really about trust. Trust that there are other people in this world who have that same sensibility. Those who care about you, who care about the quality of their work. Trust, when there is something you simply cannot do for yourself, and so you turn to those who specialize in that particular solution. I must trust in the dedication, love, and experience that has my surgeon doing this several times a week for decades.
I have a beautiful life to lead and build with my beloved wife, and I cannot imagine a world in which I won’t be able to do that. I have so much more to give. So much more to create and to share. And I will do it. I must.
And, so I am putting my life in the hands of those who are qualified to protect it and make it better. Who are healers. Who want nothing more than for me to be okay. There is no greater power to be had than the power to trust in that, when fear has the cheek to knock at your door.
This must be done. I must be brave. I must march into that darkness with my shoulders squared and my jaw set, and my heart and mind in concert that this is happening. And it will be fine, and I will emerge back into my life more appreciative than ever that I will have many more sunrises and sunsets, and beautiful vistas to snap pictures of, many more stories to tell, songs to write and sing, pictures to paint, clay and pottery to enjoy, furry creatures to love, and many more opportunities to love my wife and hold her in my arms, knowing I have found the one to share all the beauty and wonder and laughter this world still has to give us.
All shall be well.
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