April 2018

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Peas in a Pod

Having tumors is a lot like spending a year in federal prison. That's what I surmised from reading Piper Kerman's excellent memoir, Orange is the New Black.

Both Piper Kerman and I found that friends and family were key to maintaining a sense of self and through our ordeals we recognized peeps that we had not recognized before. (Hers were fellow inmates while mine are fellow weebles).

The two of us were frustrated by a lack of control in our lives: she because of barbed wire and wardens and me because of balance and vision complications.

For us both, it was rejuvenating and yet difficult  to get away into nature: at the prison, they didn't do a lot of day hikes, and hiking over long and rough terrain is pretty impossible for me now. We share with this difficulty a sense, sometimes, of being closed in, though her sense of being closed in may be more literal than mine.

Both of us faced our challenges with an optimistic spirit that helped us through, and yoga helped us center and breathe restoratively.

We both learned that we could face a kind of darkness that we did not know we would have the fortitude to face.

She reached the end of her sentence, a changed person yet prison-free, and I, too reached the end of my tumors as the MRIs have since radiation last year declared me tumor-free.

Both of us found that our understanding of ourselves and our world changed because of the experience.

In both cases, we are glad for the grace of all we have learned and for the people we have come to know, but I don't either of us would choose the journey we had to take.

Both of us write about our experiences. Like me, she wrote a six-word story before writing a longer memoir.We are both writing in the memoir genre, though she is published and I am still writing.

There are of course many differences. She went to prison because she took a risk and got involved in a drug trafficking ring. My only risk, a significant one, was to be born. She regrets her risk. I do not regret mine.

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