Just when I was beginning to wonder if I was perhaps not a very nice person after all, that I was maybe the only blogger out there who was not feeling particularly sanguine, philosophical, grateful, brave, accepting, noble, etcetera and so forth, about facing 2012 with some sort of valiant resolve to be a better person, achieve world peace, and — why not? — maybe help cure cancer, some of my cyber sisters reassured me by proxy.
First, there was this post by Katie on Uneasy Pink that got me thinking about what motivates us to blog. She has noted a shift in her perspective over the past several months, and wonders where it’s brought her. While her commitment to the meaningful issues she has so ably identified has not wavered, she has realized the wisdom of picking her battles, that going head-to-head with some of the most egregious examples of foolishness out there in the land of breast cancer non-awareness “is a tremendous drain of energy. […] that if I take on a fight, the fight becomes the central issue. While I feel it’s important to stand up to these people and places, I worry that I run the risk of creating just another distraction from the truth about breast cancer.”
I think I’ve been wrestling for a while now with a bit of outrage-fatigue myself. Not that I haven’t been up to the ol’ snark, high dudgeon and righteous indignation since, but a steady diet is wearying. And it doesn’t pay the mortgage. Meanwhile, I’m still slogging my way through this vast archeological dig known as “trying to get my life back.” Howard Carter had an easier time uncovering King Tut’s tomb.
Several of my blog sisters have written posts about coming up with three words to help guide them through 2012, inspired by Philippa at Feisty Blue Gecko. And they’ve been wonderful words — like “resilience, escapade and wonder,” the words Philippa chose for this year; or “create, nurture and appreciate,” the words chosen by Jackie at Dispatch from Second Base. Over on Twitter, one of the weekly Breast Cancer Social Media tweetchats (#bcsm), hosted by Jody of Women With Cancer, was devoted to picking three words for 2012 and was a rousing success.
In an attempt not to be a New Year’s grinch, I tried to come up with three words myself, but somehow, my heart just wasn’t in it. Not that I didn’t come up with some words. But the ones I kept coming up with all started with the prefix “re-” — an endless stream of words like renew, restore, reclaim, rediscover, repair. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of them. But I began to wonder about that prefix, the “again” of it. There was a message in that “again” that bothered me. It suggested that I was trying to go back, trying to find that person I used to be before breast cancer. And that person is gone. And I haven’t recovered (another “re-” word) from that loss. And maybe I never will. Huge, life-changing losses are like that. They may hurt less over time, but they never really go away. Instead, they reside in us, seem to become part of our DNA.
In my stream of consciousness, I thought of a “re-” word in another language — the word ‘rechercher’, which means to search or retrieve — literally re-chercher, to look again. It occupies a famous phrase, which is the title of Marcel Proust’s magnum opus, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu. For years, the accepted title in English was “Remembrance of Things Past.” But that translation did not at all capture the feeling that prompted me to think of the word. It was the literal translation of the title that expressed it more closely — “in search of lost time.” And I discovered that, in fact, that translation has now become the accepted English version of Proust’s title. And that’s what all those vaguely disturbing “re-” words were saying, that I was once again, as I’ve done almost non-stop since being diagnosed, searching for lost time, my lost time — time, identity, energy, accomplishment, morphology, all lost to cancer. And I know that such a search is inevitably a waste of time.
In mid-December, I did manage to conjure a little Photoshop distraction, inspired by a YouTube video that my friend Rachel found. It was a video about a fundraising partnership between the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Instinct Archery, the latter of which was selling ‘Hope’ pink-ribbon recurve bows to raise money for NBCF. The video started off with a row of male hunters, hanging out in the woods in their requisite plaid shirts, shooting arrows at several deer, followed by a pitch for these pink bows. Killing Deer for the Cure?? I wanted to embed this astoundingly ironic video in this post. But sometime in the few weeks since Rach, myself and several other bloggers lampooned it on Facebook, including a version of the Photoshopped image above that I posted on my blog’s FB page, I discovered that the video is now marked “Private.” Now, even the above link for these bows no longer includes any mention of NBCF. Apparently, we may have unwittingly pulled off another successful campaign of guerilla snark!
Well, that was cheering, but I was still stumbling over my temps perdu, wondering what the heck to do or say about it all. And once again, my cyber-sisters came to the rescue, starting with singleshot1 and her gloves-off post, Chuckles, the cancer clown, about what we mask with our glib one-liners and snark-du-jour.
Then came Rach, and her post, 2012, With No Apologies to 2011. Another marvel of tart truth-telling, she summarizes the reality of living with metastatic breast cancer last year, and the impact it may have on this one. Her three words: “I’m still here.” Her strategem: bitchblogging.
And then, I noticed some good ol’ astringent and righteous ranting on the FB profiles of a few of my ol’ breast cancer forum buddies, these wise and wise-cracking wenches who got me though many a midnight while I was enduring treatment, as we plotted revenge against those numberless numbnuts-who-are-mean-to-cancer-patients, by forming a band of bald, burnt, lopsided, estrogen-deprived breast cancer harpies, armed with pitchforks and power tools to even up the score.
And at last, I began to feel a wave of relief well up inside. I’m not a freak! Goddess-bless-me, I’m not alone!
And then I thought, if I really followed my inclinations, I’d choose three expletives as my words for the year. I can come up with several more than three of those to describe how I feel about 2011. As far as 2012 goes, I’ve observed thus far that cancer is still attacking my friends, still attacking their friends and family members, still running roughshod over our daily lives, still the backdrop for even the good stuff we choose to do, so we can have us a nice, juicy dose of sort-of-normal now and then.
So, do forgive me, those of you with kinder, gentler hearts than mine, but at the moment, I’ve got nothing insightful to say about 2011, nothing inspiring to say about 2012. And I don’t give a rodent’s derriere either. And I’m sure as hell not big on that ‘Hope’ shit. It may kill a few deer, but it hasn’t cured anything. Plans are good, though. I like plans. The best thing I accomplished last year was to re-learn (yes, I know…) how to make plans. And even to fulfill some of them. But plans are dicey, too. Because you never know. Because, as has been stated at the top of this blog for three years now, life is what happens when we’re making other plans.
But you know what? A lot of us are still here. And for now, I’m quite blankety-blank-blank relieved about that.
Let the bitching begin!