The first time I heard Harry Chapin’s song Changes, I wondered about his thoughts. Chapin was a compulsive writer and talker from what I’ve read, and listening to someone who seemed to pierce life’s subtleties easily, propelled me to dream of many careers. I often envisioned myself as a great orator or written style, one who would draw the masses. I also imagined being a fireman rescueman, a top Colombo-style detective, a Noble Laurent, a singer, a restaurant owner, and an inventor. But as the years rolled by, I changed.

If Chapin sat with me today, I presume he’d note all the changes. Everything about me changed. I never became recognizably great of any of the careers I dreamed. But wow, have I changed. Even this blog changed.

Starting as a small forum for me to note Buddhism spirituality and how I attempted to live it, I never envisioned sifting through political, spiritual, and medical crises. I never imagined talking about so much. Reading early blog posts and watching my metamorphosis from naïve blogger through personal problems and onward to death is nothing short of amazing.

The blog started simply enough, but it migrated to discussing Osteoarthritis, tumor, and Parkinson’s. I never intended to share all this information. A part of me is glad I had this form of expression. Another aspect is the awe I lived this long (27 months). Doctors claimed I wasn’t supposed to, but here I am. My thoughts were not intended to be a personal record for relatives, for none know this blog exists or even that I remain severely ill. I find it strange to have kept the severity of my illness(s) so private, yet my blog openly bares everything for any who stops and reads. Again, this openness is not an ember from some high-lofty goal or refusal to let Parkinson’s or tumors rule my life. Others have it worse than I.

For instance, a coworker’s wife went for slight shoulder separation surgery and complained of intestinal discomfort post-surgery. She died from undiagnosed Stage IV colon cancer nearly ten days later. The extensive pain I suffered three weeks ago departed. Yet, I understand (more intuitively) time is limited (maybe months). One thing Chapin might note is that perhaps this blog is my coping mechanism.

One relevant change from other bogs is that neither my Parkinson’s nor tumor has ever been labeled a personal ‘nemesis.’ Likewise, neither do I believe God sent such diseases as a form of punishment nor for ‘glory of God.’ I always figured He had better things to do. My blog is ‘life.’ It’s just Parkinson’s. It’s just a tumor; that’s what cancers do. Even for those with whom I’ve shared my medical history, I never presented a ‘woe is me’ philosophy.
Chapin might say, ‘no man is an island,’ and I should open up. If I did, most might understand I am not weak. However, my silence is rooted in the days of yesteryear when sharing any form of discomfort was met with a ‘suck it up’ chorus. Therefore, I’ve become accustomed to being the Chameleon. As Frost would say, “… everyone sits around the fire and supposes. But the secret sits in the middle and knows.”

Even as I change, as my body decomposes, I prefer to blend. I like ‘aloof.’ Aloof is comforting. I don’t ask for help. I don’t hire adaptive medical services. Human Resources doesn’t know I’m sick. I have not let many know, that I know, death could knock upon my door at a moment’s notice. When I have, some cheap diagnostic cure is offered. Often, this makes the offeree more comfortable but presents nothing of value.

I told a friend of my pain yesterday. I offered no details other than, “I am having a difficult time sleeping because I am in pain.” Her reaction was to demand I schedule an appointment with an acupuncturist. “Acupuncture will kill the pain,” she exclaimed. Sadly, neither Parkinson’s, cancer, leukemia, nor any other significant disease will be crushed via acupuncture. Such individual choices will never impact such insidious enemies. As Chapin might note, ‘nothing can change ‘change.’

Like Chapin, I longed to be changed and challenged. I am interested in the world. I like reading about other cultures, what makes people successful, how they overcame challenges. In the near future, I face the final challenge, one of traveling beyond this life into the next. I’ve made a series of lists for others. I’ve left instructions. I even wrote final letters that seemingly keep editing. I am sorry for those who will have to pick up my pieces.

“And all the changes
Keep on changing
And the good old days
They say they’re gone.
Only wise men
And some new born fools
Say they know what’s going on.
But I sometimes think the difference is
Just in how I think and see
And the only changes going on
Are going on in me.”

~ Changes, Harry Chapin ~