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2003-12-20 - 3:49 p.m.

I've just been talking to a man with cancer. He's in his early thirties, good looking, incredibly smart, a charming and engaging and friendly person. And his chances of surviving more than about a year from now are poor. Strangely, though, I didn't feel sad for him. He seemed happy, upbeat, happy about the way he's lived so far, determined to enjoy what's left for him. But he made me think, really think, about what I'm doing with my life. If I found out I had cancer now, would I be as glad? Would I be satisfied with what I've done with my life?


Yes and no, I think. I've had a decent run, and I've taken some risks, and made some good friends, and there's a lot to be thankful for. But I'm not sure I've really embraced my gifts. I think I've done more sulking than I should have. Especially... especially, I think I've wasted more time wallowing in guilt than I ought have. So. Next time I catch myself at it, the guilt-wallowing, I'm going to remind myself. This is all temporary. Which doesn't mean you have to spend every moment frantically trying to pack in "peak experiences", the best ever this, the greatest ever that... but it does mean... I guess, it means it's important to take care of the gifts you've been given. Hmm. Not sure quite how to put it... every day is a gift, yes, a little gift, and "making the most of it" is too triumphal, too maximalist, too crass... no, what it needs is care. Like a little plant; you just give it care, and it flourishes. Yeah. And guilt or despair or self-flagellation are, I think, excuses to abandon that care. So, don't give in to them, don't take the excuses, listen carefully to them then respond politely and firmly, and keep on caring.


Yeah, that's what I'll say to myself. I think.


"It takes a lot of men to make a gun" - Stephen Sondheim

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