It’s Thursday morning, November 9, 2006. It’s ten after nine. I’m at my desk, working through Ecclesiastes for a book I am to write. The verse I’m working on goes like this: “Better a handful with quietness than two fistfuls with toil and a chasing after wind.”
In the middle of this verse the phone rings. This is Dr. S. Your biopsy has turned out positive, and it’s bizarre. It’s a rare, aggressive cancer of the prostate. I’m to come in for a CT scan.
Suddenly everything has changed. In a split second I have become one of “them”—a cancer patient. Suddenly I find myself encapsulated in the present moment. Suddenly I find that my past—last year, last week, yesterday, an hour ago—is a country I used to live in. And I am unable to imagine the future. There is just the present moment.