Cary Tennis After Hours

Musings, outtakes and daydreams

Cary Tennis

Cary Tennis
San Francisco, California, USA
September 11
Since You Asked advice columnist
Cary Tennis writes the Since You Asked advice column for He also leads writing workshops and runs a small publishing company. He lives in the Outer Sunset/Ocean Beach neighborhood of San Francisco with his wife Norma, who is a painter and book designer, and their two standard poodles, Lola and Ricky.


JUNE 4, 2010 2:45PM

Loma Linda Dreamin'

Rate: 6 Flag

Yesterday I swam. It was the first time since December. It felt good. I was not strong. But I had form. I wobbled only a little. My goggles did not leak. The pool is short. It is kidney-shaped.

Yesterday also I had my first proton beam radiation treatment at Loma Linda University Medical Center. I'd love to tell you more about it -- perhaps in a second post.

Today I filed my Since You Asked column just like in the old days. So bit by bit I am becoming who I was, though deeply changed. How have I changed? I think I'm less of an asshole. It's not that I have been a towering asshole previously. Not towering. But inward: plagued, grinding, feverish with demands, an ogre to myself for not accomplishing, beaten by deadlines of my own device, ungraceful toward myself in a way that, say I were to regard myself as only the steward of myself, not the owner, I would never be, no more so than I would treat an animal the way I treat myself, with such impatience and misunderstanding.

So I am giving myself a break. I am giving myself the kind of break that a real asshole does not give himself. And it is being ill that has done this. Being ill has done this, has broken my shell so light can come through, has broken the sinews of my obsessive armor, my hard, crude drive to race and excel and tower over the world.

I'm just kinda relaxed is what I'm saying. Life goes on, I'm lucky to be alive, the moment is good and kind. 

I got up early and read through the letters. I was outraged by one -- the one from the mom whose son is a pothead. It pulled me in. That's how it works. I go into the letters like a gardener going into a garden. I muck around. I wait until something pricks me, or some scent sends me, or some sight lifts me up or shuts me down or hurts me or fills me with light. I kick the dirt and get down on my knees. I commune. 

That is what I do: I commune. I commune with the human hurts that come through the e-mail. I look for the common thing: in this case, potheads and what happens to us.



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Here's to your recovery. May it proceed well and ultimately be successful.
You've had a life-altering experience, and there's no going back. Best continued wishes getting better.
It always puts a spark in blog log in when I see a new post from you in my updates column. There is beautiful image in my head now of Caryfish swimming, his body feeling cool, weightless, and good. There has been deep sorrow in my own life this week, and this image of you brings me joy.

Each of us has an allowance for assholiness I think, as we have an allowance for kindness and compassion. How and where we spend these can mitigate one or the other. I admire how you spend yours.
Here's to you...becoming who you were...but not so much.
Sometimes, facing our own mortality makes us a better person! I am glad your treatments are going well and a positive attitude goes a long way.