Thursday, June 7, 2012

Acronyms, Books, Travel

A lady walking by wanted to take our picture
in front of this heart, even though my hair
looked like this
I spent the last few days walking around San Francisco having a great time with my old pal Jeff. Though we haven't seen each other hardly at all since we were teenagers, he is one of the few people on earth with whom I can totally relax.

Re chemo, I've been trying to schedule some stuff as usual, especially a weeklong retreat at Jikoji and a drive to Montana with Kathy, visiting some folks on the way. Turns out I won't know if I'm on three-week cycles or what, or when the chemo appointments will be, or if I can be away for more than a week...until I meet with Dr. Tavakoli next week, June 13.

My interview the other day at the Social Security Administration, in which the reincarnation of Franz Kafka would have felt perfectly at home, was OK. It was mostly about info gathering. Navigating these strange skies, one must know one's acronyms: SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and SDI (State Disability Insurance.) The first one is what I am applying for. I have an IRA (from the days when I was a technical writer and such a thing was possible), and I have money in the bank at the moment, which might disqualify me. (Postscript: apparently it's not related to income.)

I've been tripping lately on the fact that I've pretty much been happier since I got diagnosed with cancer (that is, much of the time.) Then I came across some Stephen Levine books. Found Healing Into Life & Death at Julie's, then found A Year to Live on our shelf. He works with people who are dying, and the way he writes about it is beautiful.

One of many Mission murals
Like so many of us, Levine at first thought of those who live as 'healed' and successful, whereas those that died failed to heal, but this view changed for him over time. He broadened his definition of healing. He says

"...each unique path led to a common goal...a deeper seeing of life, a deeper participation. Some took the work of deep investigation and the cultivation of such qualities as loving kindness and mercy as a lost child might, an open path through the woods...

"For years our work...has been an encouragement to open fully to this moment in which all of life is expressed, that the optimum preparation for death is the wholehearted opening to life..." (Healing Into Life & Death, p. 2)

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