I get ridiculous joy out of teaching in Montana. I love watching the children play in the snow, I love watching them gear up like firefighters to go out and enjoy a brisk recess. The can-do make it work Montananess makes me stunned with recognition and appreciation. EVERY TIME. They make it happen, EVERY TIME. Sure, some forget the snow pants or the gloves or the hats. But we just deal. And if you don’t wear full snow kit, you can’t go in the snow. So, you end up ambling around bored or poking the snow with your bare fingers. The next day you show up with snow kit in tow.

It’s all a choice. Everything. Every single thing we do as a human is a choice. Our mood, our attention, where we spend money, how we talk to others, how we show kindnesses. Some of these things are more difficult given brain chemistry and trauma, but we’re all still humans living with human sensibilities.

Last week I played the song “This Too Shall Pass” by OK Go, for my class. Then I remembered their cool video with a Rube Goldberg machine and showed the kids. One of my students, a very perceptive social justice warrior that I gave the nickname “Action Jackson” to because they’re an activist and, asked

How do people THINK of things like that?”

I told them that humans are indeed quite remarkable. We have these huge brains and we like to make things and problem solve and figure things out. The kid was very enamoured with the power of human creativity.

Radiation view

Humans came up with the remarkable idea of radiating cancer cells inside the body. They figured out how to put this incredible machine inside a clinic room, and to add some beautiful scenery for the patient.

My radiation machine.

Every day at 3:15 I go to the cancer clinic and two radiation techs watch me take my clothes off while they’re prepping the space. Then and I lie on the table and they give me a cozy molded thing to put my legs on. (It’s actually very comfortable, truthfully.) They’re incredibly efficient and some days it takes less than 5 minutes total for prep and radiation. They spend their days lining people up in this machine, doing the rads, then sanitizing the whole outfit and prepping for the next radiation appointment.

Humans came up with this.

The radiology department has a few radiation oncologists and a lot of techs, but also four physicists. I know, because I was reading the staff board today while waiting for them to call me back.

Even though some days are shit, not all days are. And even on the shit days I can turn it around pretty quickly if I work on my mindset or try a little gratefulness.

It is a choice. It’s a choice to LIVE as well as I can with what I have got. And it’s a choice not to.

I choose the former.


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