Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cancer's Lesson

The world has lost an incredibly talented, multi-faceted human being today.  Tony Snow, author, radio host, T.V. host, musician, and press secretary for the Bush administration passed away last night due to complications from colon cancer.

What is there to say?  What a light.  What a bright, shining light.  What a talented man, who played the instruments of flute, guitar, and saxophone quite exceptionally.  What a gem.  What a diamond in the beltway rough.  

I have learned so much from Tony Snow.  His struggles have been a constant reminder of how to properly live my life.  I have to admit that I am quite stressed.  I stress about the world.  I stress about a world gone mad, and the little things in my life.  They eat away at me.  The small things too often molest my peace of mind, and tear me from the inside out. If only my outlook were more analogous to his, I would like to think I'd be in a better mental place right now.

I watched Tony grow and accomplish things over the years.  His voice was comforting on the AM dial.  His command of Helen Thomas during press briefings at the White House was always humorous, and he always did such a great job on Fox News Sunday, or filling for Bill O'Reilly.  I will most certainly, with a soreness uncanny, miss Tony's voice, his smirk, and his intelligence.  

As a stressed out, angsty 20-year old, I have learned so much from Tony's suffering.  When his diagnosis of colon cancer was announced, I brushed it off, figuring he had the best care available, and would be good to go in a short time.  When he was thought to have beaten the disease, my soul leaped with felicity.  What great news.  

However, the scourge of cancer reared its ugly head and returned.  It began to devour his colon, and eventually moved to his liver.  I saw him appear on television.  The graying of his hair, the hollowing of his eyes, and the paling of his skin all pointed in a very unwelcome and unwanted direction: death.  I saw death in his face.  

How could a man remain upbeat in the face of such insurmountable odds?  Death is so frightening.  The dark unknown is enough to put one's heart into palpitations.  Can someone really be a beacon of bravery in defiance of death's inevitable calling?  Death has it's tax collector, and he is always looking for more.  

Snow's positive attitude, in defiance of death has shown me how to live.  Instead of worrying about money, relationships, work, and whatever else that plagues me, I should live for the moment.  I should live for the people that I love, and who love me.  To stay focused on the small things that bite away at one in life is to be ungrateful for the very life you have been blessed with.

Make it count:
Life is a blur.  As my father says, tomorrow, I am going to wake up and be forty.  The day after that, he will be gone into the vast darkness of the universe and I will be an old man myself.  It is so fast.  The speed of light has NOTHING on the speed in which a man's life can transpire.  Tony Snow's death has shown me that I need to make it count.  I cannot waste my time being angry.  I need to make it worthwhile.  I cannot throw the gift of life away.

Tony's long bout with cancer has taught me so many lessons that I have decided to take seriously.  I cannot worry about minute things in my life.  I will literally kill myself doing so.  Money, relationships, and other stupid things can go to hell.  I'm going to live my life and make it fucking count.  Make it fucking count.

I leave you with some audio words of Tony's from when he discovered he had stage four cancer:

"When all is said and done in this life, it doesn't matter what you do, the question is, who did you touch?  Who did you love?  What difference did you make?  I don't know what difference I've made, but I'll tell you, a lot of you have made a difference in my life.  It has made it better, and wonderful, and richer, and happier.  So when people ask me how I'm doin', I'm tellin' ya I'm doing great.  My voice is a little raspy today, but I've been through cancer!  I'm doing great!"

Please read his article here in Christianity Today.

I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is—a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
But despite this—because of it—God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life—and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts—an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live—fully, richly, exuberantly—no matter how their days may be numbered.

Rest in sweet, everlasting peace, Tony Snow.  I will miss you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Is that what you call tact? You're as subtle as a brick in the small of my back..."

Brand New says it best.  

Yesterday was my first day working at the beach for the 2008 summer season.  I had the pleasure of working with Gena G., sitting, eating, talking, and teasing the cars that entered the beach.  It sure beats the past six summers I've spent laboring at various fish markets.  Hoooly cow.

Anywho.  Around two o'clock, a man in his 60's entered the beach driving a small four-door gray sedan.  At our beach, you can only be given a sticker for entry if you live in Cutchogue or New-Suffolk.  He claimed he owned property in Cutchogue, but provided me with no validation.  He also threw in the fact he was ex-law enforcement, perhaps in an attempt to guilt me into initially refusing to give him an entrance sticker.  The man was also a professor at C.W. Post.

After giving him his sticker, the man went about his business to drink his coffee and have his lunch.  About an hour later, he came by to speak to us before he drove off.  Somehow, he ended up going on a tangent about global warming and finished his monologue with the following:

"But the government won't do anything about it (global warming).  Bush is too busy sitting in his air conditioned office.  The fool."

Why are liberals so tactless?  Why are they so tasteless?  

I love politics.  People know this.  However, I have the maturity to know that is one thing you don't bring up in a cavalier manner, especially to those who you do not know.  Despite this unwritten law, I have noticed throughout my existence that those on the left really do not know, or if they know, do not adhere to this reasonable rule.

Last week, I attended a friends 21st birthday party, when I was cornered about who I planned on voting for.  I politely informed everyone that politics is not something to discuss at a party.  My father has had problems like this as well, as he has been badgered by a family of leftists at various social functions, parties, and bar-be-ques.  

Every time someone starts foaming at the mouth about politics in a situation where politics should not be discussed, I have found that the person partaking in such stupidity is always a liberal.  Be it the liberals in my family, my circle of friends, or the liberals I meet in my working circles, they all decide to bring politics to the forefront of the discussion.

Bringing politics to the forefront of a discussion in a place where politics should not be discussed always bears disastrous results.