I become very uncomfortable when someone tells me I am an inspiration to them or that what I’m doing or have done or plan on doing or have alleged to do is inspiring to them. Very uncomfortable. I am not an inspirational person. I am an ordinary person who happens to have had some out of the ordinary things happen to her. I’ve done what I think any ordinary person would do when faced with these out of the ordinary circumstances. I got through them. I didn’t see another choice. What were my other options? Fall completely to pieces? Lay down here in this hole and never come out? Not survive? None of those other options were very appealing.Â Nothing to see, move along, everything is fine, just fine. I’m fine, this will all be gotten through soon enough and then we can all go back to pretending like this never happened.
Yes, I have cancer, a wonky heart, bad knees, and a propensity towards depression. Yes, it sucks. Yes, cancer treatment has been a complete and utter terror. If there has been a complication to be had, an indignity be visited, large or small, I have had it. I tried to deal with it all with as much good humor and equanimity as possible, not because I am a saint but because dropping one’s basket when yet another person in a white lab coat tells me I am about to experience mild discomfort does no one any good. It doesn’t make The LabCoat’s job easier. It isn’t going to make the pain less painful or the procedure less procedural. It isn’t going to make it any easier for the people I love to deal with my disease. Instead, I make a joke about once again being asked to undress without anyone even so much as offering me a drink or exchanging phone numbers.
Further, being inspirational implies a certain responsibility toward the inspire-ee. I have to continue being inspirational or I will let them down. I spent most of my life in fear of letting people down, actually not in fear as much as in the firm knowledge I was a failure and a let down. Now I have this reputation to hold up, the bar has been set.Â I can’t spend the next year on my sofa eating Cheetos, drinking bourbon and discharging a firearm into the television. I can’t release a sex tape and get my own reality television series and concomitant lucrative endorsement deals. That would not be inspiring. Well, maybe it would be but not to the right people and not in the right way.
I’m just as much a schlubby let down now as I was before I was diagnosed with cancer. I cuss too much, hold grudges, lose my patience too quickly, leave dirty dishes in my sink overnight and, on philosophical grounds, avoid housework as much as possible. I am going to disappoint you.
If you want to know how I feel about the Motivational Industrial Complex, check out www.despair.comÂ
September 12, 2012 at 8:59 pm
I’m sorry but I still say you are an inspiration. Lots of people go into the hole and don’t come out. I know people who chose to quit. You didn’t. You haven’t. You are a fighter. And if you choose to be a fighter who makes a sex tape… well… that makes you even MORE inspirational to a lot of schlubbier folks who have quietly added that into their bucket list, full well knowing that they will never ever get to it. Not that you aren’t one of them!
I’ll try to think of another word. In the meantime, your resolve to be ordinary while surviving out-of-the-ordinary circumstances makes you a stand-out in my hugely ordinary eyes.
September 13, 2012 at 9:12 am
Thank you for taking the time to read and for your considerate response. I appreciate it greatly.
September 13, 2012 at 10:27 am
Having cancer is enough of a burden without having to be an inspiration as well. But you know, plenty of us without cancer leave dishes in the sink, get impatient, etc. The fact that you’re doing life the best you can while also doing cancer is, sorry, inspirational, because you’ve got game.
October 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm
For those of us who have been inspired, part of the problem is that it can occasionally blindside us. We’re having a rotten day or bad time of it and we see someone like you meet challenges and it inspires us when we were probably least expecting it. But I agree it puts a responsibility on the inspire-er that they didn’t ask for (usually, unless they’re part of the Complex) so I try not to saddle anyone with that burden.
That said, if you sat on the couch eating tortilla chips, drinking red wine and shooting your TV, I’d be pretty inspired by that, trashiness be damned!