I have a feeling I’m not alone.
I have a feeling that I’m part of a group, a very large group, of people who have spent the the last few weeks staring at NYSE daily charts like they were ‘magic eye’ lithographs, waiting for a shark or a ship or maybe chicken to emerge and finally, finally … finally provide some sort of answer.
But I stopped looking at the chart today. I stopped listening to nonstop ‘crisis’ coverage, and I started thinking about recovery and what it really meant.
It was then that I realized I’d been through this before.
From an economic crash or from cancer, the process of recovery isn’t all that different. It’s not a short-term deal. It’s not a long term deal. It’s not even a really, really long term deal.
As a cancer patient, the first rule of recovery is that there is no good news. There’s only news.
In the heat of cancer treatment, the words of an oncologist are like water in a desert. Every sip is essential, as each cupful is mined for every possible bit of nutrition and every possible meaning.
But after a certain point, things change. And you realize that the only good words you’ll ever hear from your oncologist is that they don’t want to talk to you any more.
Think of it this way. At this point in the economic recovery, we’ve met with the surgeon and we’ve OK’d the use of chemotherapy. We made our decisions based on statistics and excel spreadsheets and groups of doctors at the “tumor board” breakfast who reviewed our charts and our personal histories and then signed us up for some of the most severe treatments known to man.
And now, the fun begins.
By the numbers, it was an easy choice. But just because we made the decision to take action doesn’t mean we get a medal. Surgery is scheduled for a few weeks from now. And then there’s chemo.
We’re going to have a scar. We’re going to spend much of the next year being nauseous and weak, and we’re probably going to have some lingering impacts that we’d rather not think about let alone talk about. But at the end of the day, we know it’s the right thing to do. For ourselves. And for our children.
You don’t recover from cancer by admitting that you need surgery, or by agreeing to have chemotherapy. You do it by getting the surgery, by going through the treatment, and by doing your best to live your life in the time you have left.
Recovery is an acknowledgement of uncertainty. It’s a contract with ourselves to avoid the mistakes of the past, to appreciate what we have, and to hope for the best for the future.
And that’s where we are now. The recovery is up to us.