“If you could do it, I suppose, it would be a good idea to live your life in a straight line–starting, say, in the Dark Wood of Error, and proceeding by logical steps through Hell and Purgatory and into Heaven. Or you could take the King’s Highway past appropriately-named snares and dangers, and finally cross the River of Death and enter the Celestial City. But that is not the way I have done it, so far. I am a pilgrim, but my pilgrimage has been wandering and unmarked. Often what has looked like a straight line to me has been a circle or a doubling back. I have been in the Dark Wood of Error any number of times. I have known something of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but not always in that order. The names of many snares and dangers have been made known to me, but I have seen them only in looking back. Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there. I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises. Often mistakes have led to good surprises. Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes. Very little that has happened to me has happened as I foresaw or planned. I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley.”

I read the above passage this morning, after trying my damnedest to meditate and clear my head after a pretty emotionally difficult Sunday. Without delving too deeply into the personal stuff that brought about my breakdown — there really seems no other word for it, so it is probably as visceral and upsetting as you imagine it — yesterday evening, I thought that Wendell Berry’s Jayber Crow expressed something that I was feeling in that paragraph. And so, there it is.

But then again, Paul Simon has a great line somewhere on his album Graceland that needs applying too:

I said breakdowns come and breakdowns go/

But what are you gonna do about it?

That’s what I’d like to know.


Today, after meeting with a doctor at UW Hospital that specializes in High Dose Chemo with stem cell support this afternoon, we are heading to Indianapolis. One of my oldest and closest friends, Tara (whom I have known now for twenty years!) will be coming up from Cincinnati to stay with us and be there if we need someone to prop us up a little for our visit on Tuesday morning with Dr. Stephen Williams of Indiana University.

I will have a new posting up about the progress and what we have learned sometime on Wednesday. Please be patient. I understand that there are many of you out there who care what happens to me and Dawn through all of this — but I ask you to bear with us, recognize that we are only human and do the best we can to reach out. Sometimes it’s just easier to stay in and draw the shades. And you must understand that, no?

Anyway, thanks again to all for the love, support, kindness, words of encouragement, visits, food, calls, emails, cards, notes, letters, prayers, boxes of love, and everything that you have sent our way…


3 Responses to “breakdown”

  1. Molly Rice Says:

    Hey Mike and Dawn,
    Good luck in Indiana. We’ll be thinking of you!
    Molly and Dave

  2. Sending positive energy and hoping you can enjoy the fall colors down there, too! Bon Voyage!

  3. […] places. First, it came from a rough “breakdown” that I had recently — remember my post on that? In many ways, I think my breakdown, replete with sobbing, yelling, and an overall cathartic […]

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