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…

symbolism-1
He sat, sadly, guarding this…

symbolism-2

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

symbolism-3

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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