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  • Writer's picturePhilip Drucker

Communique 9-3-2020 "A Jewish Vegetarian Cowboy's Work Is Never Done

By Philip Drucker

Here’s the thing about cancer. No one gets out alive. The good news is that’s not as difficult a concept to embrace and accept. We’re all going to die anyway, right? After a while Cancer becomes another potential, final to be sure, destination at the end of this part of the journey. As I have mentioned earlier I am very skeptical of re-incarnation and karma. The ideal of this life as one in a long series of trial and error experimentation seems to downplay the so many wonders and incredible and too numerous to count experiences we are all granted daily by this, the gift of existence.

Cancer does however demand a change in one’s thinking and priorities. You ignore it at your own peril. Or, you adapt. You adapt to something it is hard to imagine even exists. I mean, Cancer! What it is good for? Absolutely nothing! Say it again! It stretches one’s belief in not being given anything we are not strong enough to handle. If it takes true out-of-body experience suffering to become a saint, well, move over Saint Peter cause Saint Phil is on his way. Lifting 16 tons ain’t got nothing on my poor soul.

Once the sudden shock of impending mortality wears off, maybe give it a year or two, and with any luck at all you are still alive (not a guarantee) you find yourself with a new set of values. Well, perhaps not an entirely new set, but a definite change in their order of importance. Not surprisingly, life issues, in my case as in how to be even healthier and more productive than before, shot to the top of my list. I am an even more dyed-in-the-wool your best work is never behind you unless you choose to stop working. Your call, cowboy. In mine and Sonny & Cher’s opinion, a cowboy’s work is never done, cowboy. Never.

FTR I remember watching this clip when it first aired. I loved the Sonny & Cher Show. As I recall, I sat Shiva for a month when it was cancelled. Not really, but I was an Orthodox Jew at the time. Of course, that was before live-in Yiddish-a Grandma Yetta passed away, then, not so much. First went the two sets of plates, then, no more tallit worn under the clothing at school. A quick change of temples and Reform Judaism City, we were there! And still am, I think.

I still remember the Sunday morning where I surprised my parents who were up a little earlier than usual, in the kitchen eating pork chops. I remember the smell as being akin to a rotting lamb chop. What is that? I asked. My parents explained to me that grown-ups could eat pork if they chose to do so and it wasn’t a sin. Being the 10-year old scholar of the Torah that I was, I not too kindly reminded them trafe in the household was in and of itself a sin (true!).

Well, fortunately they didn’t offer to indoctrinate me into the joys of pig flesh and we went back to our respective corners of the religious universe. To this day, I despise the rancid smell of pork chops in the morning. Oh yeah, soon to be joined by the even more horrible stench of bacon. Don’t get me started. Bacon flavored ice cream, if that isn’t an abomination I don’t know what is.

And there you have it. The early germanations of my identifying as a Jewish Vegetarian Cowboy. Can’t say it was a choice on the Census. Seems our administration is more interested in denying persons of color of different ethnic background the right to funds allotted and to protecting their right to vote than they are in counting ALL the people in America as mandated by the US Constitution. Nothing to see here, moving along.

My portable chemo pump just shut off. Done for the day. Unfortunately, I have to go back to the hospital to fill ‘er up with another day supply of the heavy leaded stuff. Another 24 hours of trials, tribulations and who knows what complications lying ahead. Perhaps none, not likely, but you never know.

This brings me to new priority number one. I am intent on being the best patient I can. My mantra is: 1. Listen to your doctor. 2. Trust in the treatment. 3. Pull a Nike, as in just do it. Priority number two: Stop trying to save time and start spending what you have wisely. Dovetails nicely into priority number one as without your health you will find all other things under the sun, difficult, if not outright impossible. And trust me, you don’t want that. Priority number three: this is your time to decide how you want to spend the rest of your life. My advice? Stop worrying about what those around you consider your good traits, and why they are glad you are still with them. Figure out what you think are your best traits. What you value in yourself. Whatever those skills are, short of serial king and voting for Trump may be.

I am not downplaying the efforts of your friends and family who are trying to help you, but inevitably, they don’t know you and if I may add a bit of insight, they never will understand what you are capable of. Only you know that. If you think you can do it, you probably can. Failure is nothing but a learning experience. If you are aware of the path you are on, eventually you will end up with not what you want to be necessarily, but who you were meant to be. This I believe to be far more of a discovery into the true you and your purpose for being here in the first place.

If you are honest with yourself and change what you need to change while keeping what you know you should keep, you will invariably find you are in exactly the right time and place where you are needed. Not wanted, but needed. Learn the distinction and go with that, cowboy.

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