A Contemporary American Metaphor…

I am a few short days from the biggest event in my life. It is a potentially life-threatening and certainly life-altering event. I have had a lot of those lately. However, this upcoming event also risks giving me back my life. I’ll take that risk. I am lucky. Scared? Yes. But passionately lucky.

Today, I escaped the worry and exasperation of the near future by escaping into the present with my camera. What I was to find, however, struck me with a blow of symbolism that I simply cannot ignore. I feel compelled to share it with you.

I have, until now, endeavored to refrain from voicing my understanding and subsequent position concerning the state of our society. I have been of the opinion that those of you that know me – and I hope to meet many, many more of you – know the decor of my conviction’s home. Perhaps I should be more outspoken. I don’t know. I have had a lot on my mind lately, after all.

However, this evening, as I opened the laptop and imported today’s images, I was immediately affected. Of the several hundred shots captured, three immediately caught my eye. They were obtained in close succession. In fact, I moved less than one hundred feet to grab all three. Indeed, they were obtained in fatefully close succession.

Here’s what I saw…

He sat, sadly, guarding this…


The diseased bridge’s path led my eye, pained, the too short distance to this…


It didn’t take the operahouse of knowledge and wisdom to hear the echoing refrain. With the cacophony of the world’s headlines as orchestral accompaniment, the images sang for me a frightening theme. I suspect the poetic sensibility in you will agree. We are afflicted. We are in denial.

As I write to you, dear reader, and ask you to muster your senses to help me understand my fear for our country and the world, I nonetheless remain a man with bad cancer. That said, I am also a man that has undergone the most advanced and powerful chemotherapy available. I have also been fortunate enough to have had the most cutting-edge and precise radiotherapy in the world. My cancer, a death sentence preceded by the agony of pain’s solitary confinement for billions should they carry the diagnosis, will likely be treated for cure in a few short days. I am so very lucky. I wonder if I have been, and continue to be, gracious enough.

Lucky. I live in America and, because of this, I am so very lucky. I have FOLFIRINOX and IMRT. I have palonsetron and ondansetron. I have compazine and scopolamine. I have Decadron. I have world-renowned physicians. I have heroic nurses. I have unparalleled pharmacists and skilled nutritionists. And, I have the brilliant multitude of techs and medical assistants and schedulers and housekeepers. Yes, I have it all and its going to allow me to live. Because I am an American, I am lucky.

There is no crueller tyranny than that which is exerted under the shadow of the law and with the colors of justice.

– CdM, 1734

Yet, at the same time as I choke back tears of joy and swallow the lump of gratitude for the society that has given me the chance to live beyond the spectre of cancer, I cringe to say that I am lucky to live where I live. I cringe with the ability to observe the enormity of our affliction run rampant. I cringe to think that it may, unlike the cancer within me, be on the verge of untreated metastasis.

Like me, we – the collective two hundred and fifty year-old social experiment called America – have it all. What are we doing?

I am ashamed. We should all be so very ashamed.

The weary eagle remains at his post.

We owe him more.

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