Saturday, February 2, 2019

Freedom.....

“Freedom is located somewhere outside the box.”
                                                                -Warren Miller

Freedom means many different things to people.
To me it used to be associated with pushing my body to its limits.
I was always trying to find a new challenge or a new way to push myself.
I was alway inventing some ridiculous shit to do, just for the sake of doing it.


In February 2019 it means something completely different. 3.5 years into my battle with metastatic lung cancer freedom is ONE THING: Anytime that I am physically or mentally free of the oppression of cancer.

Physically, The absolute 'most free' I ever feel is in the water.

Since my diagnosis I have had the good fortune to travel to both Mexico and Hawaii.
In both cases my primary activity was snorkeling.  
There is no weight of cancer in the water, I am free to float with the current.
If I am lucky I am swimming with a turtle or 2.
I literally could stay in the water all day.

On land, In the summer, it’s on a mountain bike. 
This is a NEW mountain bike as my old bikes are not accessible anymore. I can’t push my body like I used to do. Now I get a little help from an Ebike, 
My new ride is a badass Kona Remote Control


But....when we get to the top and the trail points downhill, I am back in the game.
I am rolling the trail with my buddies not missing a beat.
Almost like I don’t have cancer, and it feeds me, it drives me.

Winter time brings my favorite activity of all, snowboarding.
This too, has changed for me. Prior to my diagnosis, backcountry snowboarding was my real passion. Going where others are not willing to put in the effort, getting those fresh track, the deep powder. I no longer have the physical capacity to do those epics.  

Typically a chairlift or a snowcat will get me where I need to go.  
I still push, I still strive for the powder, and sometimes that takes a little work.  
Every once in awhile I step outside the ropes and push that edge a little.
It feels good to work for it. If you haven’t done it that way, it may be hard to understand

I know that everybody loves a powder day, but for me it is so much more special.  
The feeling of floating down a bowl or a really good tree glade with a fresh dump of powder is such a thrill and and a rush, I soak up every second of it, I live that moment as hard as I can.
I truly and fully forget that I have cancer during those moments.

Occupying my mind when I am not in the outdoors is a different story.
Being a cancer patient is a full time job.  I always have to be on top of my game: Monitoring my bodies’ response to treatment, researching next steps, always trying to be one step ahead of the insidious beast inside.

Music, that is an escape for me.
It has always been a part of my life.
When I was young, an older cousin lived with our family for awhile.
This exposed me to music that no ordinary 8 year old would normally hear.
Aerosmith, Fleetwood Mac, KISS, The Eagles, Thin Lizzy, etc.....
I know right?  WTF!!??


But music became a part of me, and that continued through my whole life.
Significant moments in time are marked by songs and artists.
Sometimes when I hear a certain song I am instantly taken back to a moment in time.

I have used music to help me to escape the oppression of cancer.
A summer evening on the hammock listening to some of my favorite music is pure heaven, and doesn’t happen near enough. I love to hear live music and I have been fortunate enough since my diagnosis to see many of my favorite bands.

One moment that stands out was last summer when I was seeing the Foo Fighters in Fenway.  Midway though the set, a summer thunderstorm rolled through and dumped rain almost as hard as it could possibly rain, puddles formed, people looked for cover. 
But not me…..
It was like heaven, and that memory is etched in my mind forever.
That was a freedom moment.

The purpose of this essay is to encourage my brothers and sisters in the fight to find their freedom.  Return to those things that you loved before cancer, modify if you have to, but find your freedom moments.  Live the moment.

It’s out there, maybe just a little outside the box.
Looking outside the box, like Warren would have liked.
I was almost born on two wheels.
Ahhh powder, sending it!!!

Some of that musical freedom.
I had the good fortune of having a friendship with Warren.  I spent many mornings over breakfast at Rose's Cafe listening to stories, and having wisdom and inspiration imparted on me.  Those conversations helped me develop my own sense of freedom and were the seeds for the freedom expressed in this essay.







8 comments:

  1. This is really good Jim and something I have admired about you thriuth your battle. Always living life to the fullest and taking advantage of opportunities that come your way and making things happen for yourself. Love your passion for life.

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  2. Keep your foot on the pedal, twist it the way you need to.

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  3. Modify, modify ,modify and adapt to make the moments happen- is so right Jim. Thank you for that inspirational lighting of my senses!

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  4. Nailed it. This is applicable to everyone, whether they have cancer or not.

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  5. You make us all want to love just a little more free...I am

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  6. I love and admire your passion Jim. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing so freely. From one smart guy to another....

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  7. Just found this blog. Diagnosed with sIV NSCLC on Sept 11 2017. 48 now too,with 2 daughters. So far it really sends to speak to me. Thanks for writing.

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