Friday, September 2, 2016

Not Falling Behind

Susan put on wool socks yesterday—a sure sign that fall is in the ascendant. Also, we can't help noticing that it's getting darker and darker when the alarm goes off at 6:15 am each weekday. It's not our failing eyesight; it's an inexorable seasonal trend.

At least it is in Duluth. At COB Monday, the ice cream shops will shutter their windows until May, even as the locals begin to shudder in the presence of breezes off the lake. So the wheel of the calendar is turning, and I'm gearing up for the fall process season—where I'll (cautiously) step back into the rhythms of an itinerant consultant, freshly recovered from getting my multiple myeloma under control these past seven months.

Though it's too soon to know exactly how much of my health I've regained (or how much I've been able to maneuver the cancer into remission), it's not too soon to begin living the life I can with the health I have. In 10 days I'll board the westbound Empire Builder (train #27 if you're scoring at home) for the City of Roses. In Portland I'll be met by Luz Gomez, who will drive me the rest of the way to Medford, where Weekend IV of the Pacific Northwest facilitation training will be hosted by Ashland Cohousing.

I can hardly wait for the opportunity to teach again. It's one of the things in life I enjoy most, and is a great fit with my accumulated knowledge (40+ years of group living and almost 30 years as a process consultant) and limited energy (as I gradually continue to rebuild my stamina following the stem-cell transplant in July).

Two weeks after my gig in Oregon (note that I'm protecting a week of recuperation in between), I will be in Richmond VA starting a different version of my two-year facilitation training—this time in the Southeast (centered around NC and VA) hosted by Richmond Cohousing, a forming community in the capital of the Cavalier State. Following that I'll be enjoying fall in Duluth, leading up to a trip to the City of Angels to see Ceilee and my grandkids in late Oct.

If I have my way, I will springboard off the end of that visit to use Los Angeles as my point of departure for a romantic (and heroic?) traverse across the breadth of North America to attend the fall organizational meetings of the Fellowship for Intentional Community at La Cité, a well-established ecovillage just east of Montréal. 

My hope is to negotiate the entire trip from Los Angeles to Ham-Nord QC and back to Duluth via choo choo—to the extent possible. It will take me five days and 4839 train miles eastbound (with a sharp dogleg right in Vancouver) plus two days and 1505 miles on the rebound (from Montréal to St Paul via Schenectady and Chicago). It's a fantasy train trip, and includes a ride on the Canadian (Vancouver to Toronto) end for end—it's the only long distance train across the continent that I haven't ridden. I'll get home in the wee hours of Nov 9 and will happily spend the rest of the month in Duluth, snuggling with Susan and giving thanks.

While Wikipedia cautions would-be travelers on the Canadian (Via's train #2) that the scenery can get monotonous (lots of pine trees and lakes), I am, after all, a deeply experienced bourgeois in backwoods canoeing and have a special affinity for both the North Woods and the Canadian Shield (the Precambrian granite that dominates the terrain from Winnepeg to Toronto). As it happens, in the early morning hours of the fourth day the train will chug through some of my most familiar territory in western Ontario, including a refueling stop in Sioux Lookout, from which I've launched many a canoe trip on Abrams Lake. So I'll be fine. 

My trip aboard the Canadian will simultaneously be both eye-opening (new scenery, especially as we crawl through the Rockies where we'll glimpse Banff, Jasper, and the impossibly picturesque Lake Louise) and nostalgic. A nice mix. 

While I'd much prefer to conduct this journey with Susan, she has used most of her vacation days to support me in my health crisis this year and she feels the need to stay closer to her desk at St Paul's the remainder of the year—paying back the church's kindness and understanding in letting her take off a good deal of time while serving as my main support. I'm fervently hoping that 2017 will be more characterized by our traveling together for our mutual pleasure than for attending to my medical treatments.

• • •
In closing I note that one of the regular features of autumn is the shift from daylight savings back to standard time, the mnemonic for which is "spring ahead and fall behind." Looking backwards, it's easy to see that my health was falling behind last fall (though I didn't know it at the time, my deteriorating back ultimately resulted in my hospitalization with excruciating pain and the discovery of my cancer). This year, ironically, I'll be "falling ahead," taking advantage of the change of season (when vacations are over and communities return to full strength) to reenter the orbit of my consulting career, cherry picking the aspects from which I derive the most pleasure (and believe I'm delivering the most good).

Hopefully, this year there will be no falling behind.

1 comment:

vera said...

I am scratching my head. I had full faith that you would make it through, but I am taken aback by your -- appearing to me utterly foolhardy -- upcoming schedule. Do your doctors know?! Shouldn't you be resting and drinking lots of fresh juices, and work on destressing your life?

Usually, when people survive cancer they make changes in their lifestyle in order to rebuild their body's defenses. Let us know how you see that... reading your missive, I worry.