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The Will to Live

Sometimes, I sit and stare at a blank computer screen for a long time, waiting for the ideas to flow. It is always interesting when inspiration strikes from some unusual place.

Today, I was thinking about a short story from the tenth grade literature book. And no, I am not channeling my inner nerd. Most of my professional career was spent as a high school English teacher, and I spent countless hours with those textbooks.

Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi story, “There Will Come Soft Rains” was designed to show that it is quite possible to tell a tale without a single character, and indeed, it describes in detail a house that has been damaged by what appears to be a nuclear holocaust. The house is personified, given the personality of a living thing, which in the face of a major disaster, attempts to save itself. The sprinkler system erupts to extinguish random fires. The automated features of the technologically equipped home turn on, brewing coffee and making toast for those who are eerily absent. Shutters close in sequential order. Inexplicably, parts of the house survive unscathed, while other areas lay in ruin. Soft rain soon begins to fall, sending water through the damaged roof. But as the clouds clear and the sun rises, ushering in a new day, the house still stands, going through its mechanized rituals because even in difficult moments, life goes on. That much is certain.

The idea was to make a comment about survival instincts, and I suppose that it did in an indirect way. Can there can be real comparisons made between that house and what happens to the body when one is sick? Maybe.

The human form is a mighty extraordinary thing, some of God’s best work. When attacked, it will spring into action. I am in awe of the way a cut or a bruise miraculously heals in a matter of days as every cell responds like an internal rescue team. Self-preservation is, in fact, woven into the very fabric of our beings. And I am grateful for it. I had surgery exactly a week ago. I fully expected to be pretty sick for a few weeks, and yet, today, I replaced the cushions on the patio furniture, watered the plants, and washed a load of clothes. My incisions are healing nicely, and I am feeling stronger with each passing day. My body is on auto pilot working hard to recover. There is something amazing about that.

Soon, I begin chemo, which means yet another physical assault as poison is pumped into my veins. And like the house, I am caught in the crossfire of the attack, battling an unseen enemy. But I am also confident that my will to live is strong. And so is my faith.

For indeed, when the sun comes up tomorrow, I fully intend to be here to see it. And if it rains, I am expecting a rainbow.

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