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Friday, May 23, 2014

Long Story Longer, Conclusion...

Whether on the battlefield or in life (some would ask, "What's the difference?"), those who readily adapt to negative events fare better than those who don't. It's called "Resilience," Problem is, there's only one way to become Resilient. Suffer. If one lives long enough, there will be ample opportunities to become resilient.

Once, while traveling through the shimmering red wilds of Utah, I was struck by an interview I heard on a scratchy PBS station. I don't remember the geeky social scientist's name, but his point was that human beings are equipped to handle the most dramatic loss, even the death of a family member or spouse, and adjust, accept, and move forward into our new circumstance in about 38 days. He didn't mean to imply that you stop grieving or that all the emptiness is gone; that, we never forget and may well carry to the grave. According to his studies/findings, it turns out our minds are highly adaptive...quick to adjust to new realities. It's at work in the background, tweaking us into the present and, if we are attuned, offering new attitudes, possibilities, and routines that better fit our new circumstance. 38 days. Gee, it takes me six months to get over a two week flu. 

We see it every day—we all know someone who proves the above true and wonder how they do it. Apparently, anyone can. There is no gene for "resilience;" it's an adaptation. So the only way to become resilient, unfortunately, is to be familiar with Miss-Fortune; ain't she a bitch. As I said, if we live long enough, opportunities to become resilient will come.

This might sound a little like Shallow Hal, but of all life's attributes I've aways treasured fitness and health above everything else. Don't need no Ph D's, no Platinum record, no byline in Who's Who. Just give me Health and fitness and the great wild, wild west where I can put it to good use indulging the kinds of activities that bring joy and abundance to my little life. As most of you probably already know, I'm happiest when somewhere remote and wild—away from city crazies—in places with such night blackness I can see every star. Give me an unfamiliar landscape, challenging enough to hold my attention and interest, and I will show you Joy. It is my source of energy, renewal, and happiness, and when Miss-Fortune threatens to take it away, it is no small deal. 

I have been dreaming this dream a long, long time, bailed out of a career that would have (had I stayed until age 65) wrapped me in a blanket of security like a child in his Daddy's strong arms; soft and warm and worry-less. Money is nice, but we all know there are certain things it can't buy. It was the best decision I ever made, because only now can I imagine a life without health, only now do I fully understand that there are no guarantees. 

Having always made heavy investments in health and fitness, I thought I might avoid or at least postpone the inevitable submersion into Golden Pond. Well Surprise, Surprise. But my mind is already hard at work, adapting, adjusting...compromising. It may be lowering my sights, I don't know. But as long as I can still scoot around on my 29'er, hike a good long trail...just to see a trickle of water fall from a canyon's varnished lip, listen to the Wren's falling song, and wade through alpine meadows of wildflowers, I will count myself among the fortunate. 

Though it is on the threshold of noticeability, I do believe I'm getting better every day. Your comments are good motivation to hang in. I appreciate each and every one.
Have a fun Memorial Weekend, and thanks for your support.

Recent random shots around Lovely Ouray   


  1. The light is shining at the end of the tunnel! Slow and easy does it...

  2. Mark, two years later and I'm still recovering from several crushed vertebrae, and I now realize I'll never be the same - but I'm with you - as long as I can be in the wilds, even if I'm just sitting in a camp chair - life's better than many have it while healthy and in circumstances they resent and hate. Resiliance is sometimes not a choice - you have to carry on. I guess you do have a choice - you can curl up and die, but that's really not something most of us are ready for.

    They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but I think that's a really stupid saying, because what doesn't kill you actually can make you more cynical and bitter. The trick for me is to focus on each day's beauty, and that works best when I'm out in the wilds where there's lots of that.

    Here's to your recovery - both physical and mental - things like this can really change you. Just take good care of yourself and get back out here soon. Thinking of you - Chinle

  3. Having just read the nightmares you've endured in your previous post, this is indeed encouraging. May you continue to heal and return to your awesome self!

  4. Very glad to read this post. We felt the exact same way. We were in better physical shape than anyone else we knew our age or younger. And then, out of nowhere, an incurable cancer. Boy were we bummed, organic food for the past 30 years, hiking, biking, kayaking; none of it kept the wolf from the door. But as long as we can get out AWAY from the crazies and into dark skies, deep woods, beautiful waters, WILD flowers - just wild period, things are good. Wishing you more of all those things as you return to "normal".

  5. I'm hoping that the shots around Oray indicate that you are up motoring around and not just viewing files and files of old photos. Recovery takes longer than I ever accounted for before the surgery that is for sure. If it is taking longer than you think you can bear... take that camping chair and sit in the sun each day facing the for directions for surely you will be out in the wilds again soon. Karen

  6. I'm detecting the "green shoots" of positive mental attitude sneaking back into your life, congratulations!

    You've painted such a pretty picture of Ouray in your posts that I am looking forward to visiting the area in person some day. Perhaps next fall.

  7. Adapting is a good way to put it Mark...might as well...
    Here's to continued improvement and peace of mind.

  8. Mark, I think most of us older folk can relate.
    My Motto is go, until you really can't, hurts be damned. :O)
    I figure that's the best any of us can do.
    Good health,

  9. I can empathize as I can't do what I used to do for health reasons. I have read you long enough to know you have a sense of humor, but my attempt at humor in my comment on your last post failed and fell flat on your face. I'm hoping that one day you'll feel fit as a fiddle and might laugh at it. Until then, sounds like you'll be able to do more than I can; and then there's your photography. Just incredible. I know you are resilient, and I suspect you'll be up and around sooner than you think--at least that's my hope.

  10. Every time I hear or read that someone remarks that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them, I want to throw up. I had cancer and it was not the best thing that ever happened to me. Thanks for letting me say that.

  11. ...from one of the ones who lived like there was no tomorrow for quite a while, it finally is catching up with me as last yrs injury has given me 2 bum wrists, hands, and one bum knee to go on with! So now I have to rethink every plan, and take the fork in the road when it comes...soon I hope the worst will be behind you and a glimmer will return.

  12. You words are so well written and it seems you have a clear picture of what is important. You will get better and you will again enjoy your outdoor activities. If those activities are somewhat reduced then you will adapt and be happy. My husband and I by way of supporting a neighbor attended a Toastmasters presentation. There were six speakers. One in particular stood out. An Olympic competitor who lost a leg, first bitter, then realized that winning in peri- Olympics was a wonderful life experience. I guess you would have had to hear him speak. People adapt, as you say and hopefully move on to greater experiences. Heal safely and take as much time as needed.

  13. Gayle doesn't know that I know but she has a do not resuscitate with my signature forged. I am not sure if she will bring a date to the cremation or not. Anyway, looking forward to beer, biking and hiking with you two again, should I last that long.


    1. Ok Jim…that made me laugh, which hurt and could have popped a "stitch."

  14. Good to a change in your voice:) It has become more positive meaning, I hope, you are feeling a little better. Slow and steady wins the race.

  15. Just a note of sincere appreciation for all your encouraging comments…except Jim's, which made me laugh and almost sent me back the the ER :).

    Reading your comments helps me realize I'm not the only one "having this baby," that nearly everyone has something to bear, if not now, eventually. Patience is not a virtue of mine, but it looks like I better start working on it.
    Sincere thanks,
    PS, It's snowing this morning in Lovely Ouray…sheesh.

  16. Praying you will be back to your ole self ASAP! I have followed your blog for years but have never commented....your hernia problems hit pretty close to home considering I have two (both groin..left and right side) of them to deal with. Not sure which repair you had performed, laparoscopic, open, or used the dreaded mesh repair, etc. I have done a ton of research and many people have had the same outcome or post operation complications as you have experienced. Stories like this scare the sh** out of me so I have opted to have my hernia repaired outside of the United States using the Shouldice Procedure. The Shouldice Hospital is located in Ontario, Canada and they only do hernia repairs, they have less post op complications and there is less chance of recurrence too. Thank you for sharing your experience, it helps the ones on the fence about having this procedure do more research before making the commitment.

  17. It's snowing in Ouray and we skipped right over spring and into summer in the midwest. Sometimes I wonder if any weather would ever satisfy any of us for long! Glad you're doing better, healing takes time and mental adjustment takes time too as you pointed out. We all know you'll be back to normal at some point and soon (hopefully) the memory of what this time was like will quickly fade.

  18. Just getting caught up ~ total bummer, Mark. I just saw on Facebook where Maya Angelou died this morning. Began my morning with mourning tears.

    I have wondered the same thing ~ how do lovely people die ~ the ones who have caused no harm ~ just give of themselves ~ and the rat bastards of the world keep on keeping on.

    I have never understood that. AND when I hear someone say ... it is/was God's will ~ I want to slap 'em. I don't believe in a God that culls or a Universe that culls ... nature has a way of blowing away a multi million dollar mansion on her pristine shores as well as leveling an entire little town in five minutes with wind or water or fire or all.

    Why? haven't a clue ~ some of us play and sing and keep happy thoughts ~ don't want much ~ don't need much ~ but the shit comes along. Others think the sky is falling every twelve minutes ~ stomp on flowers and pull wings off flies and nothing ever happens.

    I have ... for the time being ~ my decisions about the universe and life change hourly ~ come to the conclusion that the Universe has a sense of humor as well as a mean streak....

    wealth = health .... for sure. how we do attain it? beats the hell outta me because as you wrote... and Sherry... eating properly and exercising ~ all the right stuff doesn't keep the mean streak away ~ even those who have built storm shelters can have a faulty million dollar door ~

    The only thing I know for certain as I've said many times is ... I know nothing.

    1. Well stated, Carolyn, well stated.
      thanks to all for your supportive comments,
      mark and bobbie


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