Quote of the Day: “No one keeps up his enthusiasm automatically. Enthusiasm must be nourished with new actions, new aspirations, new efforts, new vision. Compete with yourself; set your teeth and dive into the job of breaking your own record. It is one’s own fault if his enthusiasm is gone; he has failed to feed it.” Papyrus
On Monday, I was riding home from St. George listening to the latest podcast of This American Life entitled What Doesn’t Kill You. The first story was about four months in the life of a comedian named Tig Notaro. I had seen Tig on the movie screen last year when This American Life did a life broadcast. I loved her routine, she was very witty, had great pauses as she delivered her lines and was funny without being vulgar. As you might imagine, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and then two days later goes on stage. She had another routine ready to go but instead talked about her cancer experience. She says “I really had the fear that if I walked away from this opportunity to perform that I would never be able to again.” She goes on to say “…my life could just start changing very quickly. I could immediately be on chemo. I could be ill. My past four months had shown me that who knows what’s coming up.”
I remember the day that I found out I had cancer. I had gone to lunch knowing a phone call was coming with the biopsy results. Then I ran errands and got the dreaded call at Office Max. I certainly was in shock because I kept trying to do things as if I had not just received the most devastating of news. Later that afternoon, I showed up at the Skyline gym to do Parent-Teacher consultations. Can you think of anything worse? So there I sat, across from rows of parents, waiting to talk to me about their child’s grade. I don’t know how I lasted those hours, listening to parents talk and talk fully aware that my life had just taken a very scary and dangerous turn. Maybe it was easier to be there so I didn’t have to face alone time. It was only through time that I could sort out my situation. Definitely, going on stage was a way for Tig to sort out some of her future.
She says “It was scary. I picture myself walking and just kind of putting my tip-toe in front of me slowly, just, oh, I have no idea what this next line is going to be.” Then Ira Glass, from This American Life, says this “…we have stories of people who nearly die. Some of them nearly die more than once. And we see what it turns them into, who they are when they come back to the rest of us.” And I seize upon this because Glass has eluded to a personal transformation that occurs with tragedy leaving you wondering just who you are when you “come back to the rest of us”.
So Tig starts and says “Good evening. Hello. I have cancer. How are you? Hi, how are you? Is everybody having a good time? I have cancer. How are you? Ah, it a good time. Diagnosed with cancer. (Sighs)…” She goes on “Found a lump, got a mammogram. I ended up getting biopsies, which is painful. If feels like being stabbed…”
I know, you are probably saying “How is this a comedic routine?” but she does it so well that you want to cry and laugh at the same time. She goes on to explain that she gets this horrible virus that puts her in the hospital for a week, she drops 20 pounds, then her mother dies after tripping at 65 and then she goes through a break-up. After all this, she talks about a phrase or concept that I have thought a lot about. She says “But you know what’s nice about all of this is that you can always rest assured that God never gives you more than you can handle. Never. Never. When you’ve had it, God goes, all right, that’s it. I just keep picturing God going, you know what? I think she can take a little more.”
“And then the angels are standing back going, God, what are you doing? You are out of your mind. And God was like, no, no,no. I really think she can handle this. But why, God? Like, why? Why? I don’t know. I just, you know. Just trust me on this.”
So this idea that God will give us only what we can handle interests me. I have come to understand that if you are doing the things you should be doing and handling each piece of life as it comes to you, you can probably handle what life throws at you. And then, my friend Sue O. made this comment. “God never expects us to go through these hard times alone, he puts people in our paths so that they can help us”. It all became clear. No one should be handling hard times alone. We all need to help each other.
Alex and Taylor on Old Red Pine Trail in Millcreek Canyon, Alex’s 27th Birthday