“Not Yet Dead”

For the last quarter-century it has been my spiritual practice to get up before dawn and write. It connects my dreams with the rest of the world. I start writing what I think I know, and in the process, connect my hopes, loves and fears. The messages from my amygdala bounce around in my cerebral cortex, and I connect my sorry little self with the rest of this humongous, scary, exciting, incomprehensibly changing world.

Because my work in the world has been to work with adults to help children thrive as they grow, the Genius in Children became the focal point of my writing in the last ten years, and it has served me well. What is our reason for being, if it cannot be linked to making the world more glorious for the next generation?

This discipline for mindfulness has been a vehicle helping me become one whole human rather than a bunch of disparate, warring factions. At the same time, it helped me, day by day, feel like I am doing something to make the world a better place. And perhaps with better education the world will become whole rather than a collection of disparate warring factions.

As some of you may have noticed, I fell away from this practice the week I discovered that my brain had an evil intruder. I don’t know why. It just happened to me, just as the melanoma just happened to me. I like to think I am in charge of my life and my destiny, but life intervened and corrected that error. The truth is that I may be in charge of my life, but I am not in control of my destiny.

I don’t know precisely why I am back writing to you all, again, but one of my motivations is YOU. Your responses to my last two posts was very heartening–yes, people are actually listening. You have told me that what I say matters to people, and that has gotten me back in the fight. Maybe, we can partner-up in some useful way with the young people who are rising up, speaking up and reminding us that we do all know what’s worth fighting for.

I am in my eleventh week of immunotherapy. In some ways, it seems to be working. One of the metastases in my brain has shrunk, but the one in my right occipital lobe seems to have gotten larger, and my vision is fuzzier—I hope my thinking is not so fuzzy. We may know something more by the end of next week, after I get a PET scan.

Last month my family rallied to the Bay Area, and we had great fun together—almost all twenty of us.

One of the reasons that I am doing so well is that my wonderful wife Victoria has been “doing the thinking for both of us” as well as being anxious for both of us. I get to focus my energy on staying alive. Staying alive, loving, laughing, binding my sorry self together into one whole human and connecting with the rest of this crazy world. I am so grateful for this great gift she is giving me.

Worrying about what is going on in my body is like listening to the news every night–not exactly inspiring. On the other hand there is some evidence that things are actually coming together, and that there is room to hope there will be healing. It happens all the time.  We’ve all been through worse, and if we partner-up with the young folks, we can we can sing along with the cast of Spamalot, “We are not yet dead.”




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25 Responses to “Not Yet Dead”

  1. Annie Fox says:

    May you continue to shine your light, Rick, with full intensity. You are making the world brighter for all of us.

  2. Terry Ashkinos says:

    So good to hear form you! Your words and genius will always hang in there! The lives you have touched continue to remember and grow…

  3. Anne Marie Schar says:

    All the best wishes for you and your family. Thank you for the writing that you do. As an educator, and more importantly, a parent, I find your thoughts and experiences of great value.

  4. Corey says:

    Thinking of you and wishing all the best for you in this. Taking the days one at a time for what they are and making the most with them, appreciating the love of friends and family and all the little jewels in a day and letting the other parts go… yes this is the way to handle this and you are right there.

  5. Bill Glenn says:

    Rick, your spirit continues to enrich us and make the world a better place. Keep up the writing as long as it nourishes you… it still inspires us. We’re thinking of you and sending our best wishes.

  6. Laura DelaFuente says:

    You continue to inspire! Our thoughts are with you and want to stay connected.

  7. Rick, thank you for being you. I echo others who have commented that you make the world a better place. You inspire us to act out of the best sides of ourselves. You are the definition of “supportive.” On top of all that, you’re funny, wise, entertaining, wonderful company. We, your family and friends, are all so lucky to be in your light. I wish you all good things, partner, and let’s please collaborate again soon. That was a blast!

  8. Kim says:

    “What is our reason for being, if it cannot be linked to making the world more glorious for the next generation?” Thank you for this and everything you write. You touch us all with wisdom m and grace.

  9. Harriet Hubbard McConnochie says:

    Rick, this cousin on yours in Rochester, NY is one more person who pores over your writing and who also has been thinking of you! Thank you! And thank you to Victoria too for her posts.
    Now I have just pored over that recent photograph of all of you. Beautiful! I think I identified everyone, with interest!, even if I do not know all your grandchildren’s names.
    Love, Hat

  10. Rick, I’m thinking of you and holding you and your family in my prayers. Your thinking and writing nourishes all of us. I’m glad it continues to inspire your life journey! — Marilyn

  11. Rick says:

    Thank you, all, and yes, Janet, let’s collaborate again with those parents.

  12. Rick,
    We don’t know each other personally, but we are connected by the lifetime we’ve both chosen in education. Then your last post “A New Turn in My Life” was incredibly helpful to me. My sister and I had a good talk about what the next health challenges might bring, and that you said “I am actually looking forward to it.” For some reason we both said yes! I understand that! And it was a comfort, not sure why, but we both appreciate it.

    You may not feel that way right today, but your cells know to do the very best they can for a good man. And yes, we are all out here listening and thinking of you and your family.

  13. Darcie Lamond says:

    Thank you for writing Rick. It helps us all and we appreciate it. The family on the steps is a fine testament to your past, present and future. <3

  14. Lucy Claire Curran says:

    Hi Rick,
    I don’t know if you remember me, but I reached out to you through my alumni network when I first arrived in the Bay Area as an anxious recent college grad desperately seeking a sense of direction in my career, armed with a degree in English Literature, a vague sense that I wanted to “help the world”, and a growing worry that I was completely unequipped to apply my idealism and book smarts to contributing meaningfully in the ways I so wanted to. I have unsubscribed from a lot of mailing lists over the past 7 years…and I stayed on yours. I don’t know that I have commented a lot here, but I have always enjoyed reading what you post and share. Thank you! I’m not sure that I fully expressed back in 2011 how much it meant that you responded so thoughtfully and fully when I reached out to you to express what I was looking for here in the Bay Area. If I did not, I am saying thank you now! And sending you and your family lots of healing thoughts and positive vibes, and just wanting you to know that you showing up consistently and sharing your kind, insightful, and compassionate writing with all of us is a breath of fresh air at a time when the online channels are full of lots of less uplifting and less thoughtful kinds of information sharing, to say the least(!). Thank you for showing up as you. I am inspired to keep showing up as me, to keep speaking my truth and sharing my thoughts, even when it feels vulnerable.

  15. jon madian says:

    Hugs home, dear buddy! hugs home. . .

  16. Rick, I so appreciate that you have posted again. As usual, not only am I inspired by your commitment but also reminded that am here to make a difference too, no matter how I feel in any given moment. Thank you.

  17. Claudia says:

    Rick, you continue to inspire others with your clear focus and hope! I am sending you positive energy and remembering you in my prayers. Your work continues through all the seeds you planted along the way. God bless you! Claudia Quigg

  18. Sara Suchman says:

    Rick, I am so glad that you posted again. Hearing from you is everything that hearing from an old friend should be– connection, open-hearted and robust connection.

    So glad that you picked up the keyboard again. So glad that you have family around you and your wife beside you. So glad that you lightened up my day today with your words.

    Thank you.

  19. Hi Rick,
    It is wonderful that you have shared this post. It is heartwarming to know that many are reinforcing the fact that you certainly have and continue to make a positive difference.
    This is sent with caring thoughts for all that is beautiful in your life!
    Thanks for being you!

  20. Sally grassi says:

    Rick, I have missed your last few posts so didn’t know of your unwelcome invader. Tony and I send you and yours (what a beautiful family photo!) our very best wishes . I – and our children – have loved and been inspired by – your writings and will look forward to more when the spirit moves you. Until then , know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. Warmly, Sally

  21. Tyrell Collins says:

    No fuzzy thinking here Rick. When I manage to take the time to read your posts I am consistently impressed and inspired. I am working on my disparate, warring factions too, and appreciate your reminding me that this is a group process. xo

  22. Maria Omari says:

    Hi Rick
    Wishing you luck and lots of strength through this uncertain time. Stay strong and thank you for the beautiful words you write to shine a brighter light for all of us looking forwarding with hope.

  23. Rumsey Young says:

    Keep on keeping on man!
    In my 73 years of travels, I’ve never met your peer. You are the King of positive thought and love. And, you’re right about the news lately. How you keep so up is a miracle…or is it genius.
    Huge kisses to Victoria even tho we’ve never met.
    I love ya man!

  24. Ray Erickson says:

    Welcome back Rick. I love this work you are doing and fully expect a full recovery so I and others can continue to enjoy your unique and thoughtful perspectives. Blessings.

  25. e john white says:

    Rick: You are an aspiration and a searcher of truth. Thank you for sharing. John

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