Friday, April 13, 2007

not ready to be broken just yet

Sometimes, it's useful to incubate, to flip yourself inside and out, turn inward and process, submerge into yourself perhaps. Other times, you have to be a little cautious. The little mess you make innocently enough can turn into a dangerously blinding morass in no time at all.

That should probably be my theme for the week, as many times as I have stated the poetic couplet:
you better check yo self
before you wreck yo self

I know, y'all- it's quite on the same level as the other poems I've been quoting this week, don't you think?

But all kidding aside, I've been doing a lot of checking of myself lately. A lot of calm down, don't freak out, let it go. And even though that can be exhausting, it's critical to survival.

That, after all, is what happens with cancer. Sure, cancer cells have mutated and are growing uncontrollably; it seems like a mess from the moment of that first mistake. But that's far too simple and far from the case.

Our cells make mistakes all the time. We're only human. We go faulty, our cells go haywire from a bad genetic misstep here and there. But usually, we have a whole series of self-regulation that shuts that sh*t down. The cell recognizes the errors of its ways and finds a way to fix the problem internally, or it determines that it's too far gone and kills itself. Either way, the mistake is not always irreversible.

And then, even when our cells go mutant, remain messed up, stubbornly refuse to perish, still, many forces keep the mistake contained. We make mistakes, and we can't fix all of them- but we can learn to live with them. The little quirks we have, the little faults, we find ways to keep them to fixed parameters. Sure, go ahead, quote song lyrics in the title of your post or while talking to CGBF, but maybe keep your mouth shut when sharing the elevator with a VP. The body is constantly keeping itself in check.

It's only when the mistake is particularly grave, or the body has fallen asleep at the job, that cancer really becomes the death knell that it is. When the mistake is catastrophic, the cell goes supernova- it doesn't just make a mess, but it grows insidious, pushing its way out of its point of origin. It takes the show on the road, and usually because the body has looked the other way at the border crossing.

That takes a confluence of crap, basically, a FUBAR situation. If you don't believe me, check out this week's Nature article noting that no less than 4 genes are involved in promoting metastasis, that very phenomenon that leads a cancerous cell to go walkabout.

And yes, we're talking about cancer, and I know I shouldn't necessarily be applying it to human behavior. But really, it's the same basic concept- it takes a lot to really wreck yo self. It's almost wilful ignorance, or a self-destructive streak, that leads to letting a problem get so out of control that it can't be handled.

So, if I fall silent, if I'm dropping in and out of view, it's because I'm handling my sh*t. Finally, I've turned that corner, and I no longer am drawn to the beauty in the breakdown- when you can't stop the breakdown, sure, revel in it, soak it up and appreciate it for what it is. But that's what separates such a breakdown from a mess, I guess- one can't be avoided.

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