It came up in the context of sleep, though I observe it more generally. He does not fight the limitations--he does not refuse or avoid treatment, he doesn't try to force himself to sleep less, or try to do things he doesn't have energy for--but he sure hates it all, most vociferously.
Saturday morning he woke up (after being given heavy sedation Friday, and a medical procedure), having slept ten hours. "Ten freaking hours!!!" he said, a look of astonishment and disappointment on his face. Like he had failed himself, somehow; like this was a terrible thing. A weakness.
And I remember it being this way all through the chemo. Chemo is a nightmare, yes it is: you get poisoned every two weeks, and every time, it hurts your body a little more. Every time, you lose some bit of energy or ability you had before; you give a little more up each time. And all through it, he carefully tracked these losses, this extra sleep (on his Excel chart he's named it "oversleeping"), every new and unpleasant thing.
My point, then and now, and no doubt going forward: Dear Jay, if you could figure out a way to occupy the space you are in, rather than pushing so hard and so unhappily against the edges of it, yearning for the space you remember being in--maybe you could find more peace in this. Yes, it sucks. Nobody doubts or denies that. But...since it IS, since it's our reality for some time--is there any possible way to find some good in it, even maybe some joy and relaxation and acceptance? Maybe a tiny bit?
His response (then and now and no doubt going forward): If I surrender to this, the cancer wins. If I give in, I'm giving up something vital, something I might never get back. I lose something of myself if I don't keep my eye firmly focused on what I want--what I plan--to return to. What I was, who I was, who I will be again.
We went around like that for a while. I said, I don't see it as surrender. I see it as a relaxed acceptance, an accommodation. What I see you now doing is spending so much angsty energy on hating it--such negative emotion. Isn't that draining, exhausting? Isn't that perhaps harmful to you, to be so shocked and disappointed in yourself every single morning?
Furthermore, I said: You are not going to lose this vital thing in you, this focus and drive and energy and determination. You are not trusting yourself, if you think that this is just going to vanish if you have to relax a little, to let your body suffer through this horrendous treatment, and recover. You are YOU, and there's nothing that's going to change that. This is not just a habit that can be unlearned if neglected.
I mean, seriously. The jaylake who has published hundreds of stories and a solid handful of novels; who raises a brilliant, remarkable child; who inspires thousands of people on his blog every day; who has an astonishing collection of friends and loved ones: is this truly in danger of vanishing if he sleeps ten hours a night instead of six for a while?