Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Boob Slam

This post feels risky to me.  The title alone ....  The dangers of offending, of overstepping, of appearing insensitive to the incredible pain and suffering of a lot of women in this world -- all that weighs heavily. 

None of that is my intention.   At all.

It just that one purpose of this blog for me is journal, and yesterday was my annual mammogram. Now, awaiting results, I find myself in limbo with every member of the category "female humanity" who's ever found herself in here.

I'm not interested in talking about the discomfort and general humiliation of the exam.  Or even how kind the technicians almost always are.  Suffice it to say that "boob slam" is how my friend Laura refers to the ordeal.  This always cracks me up because it's such a profoundly accurate description of the experience.  And so Laura.  I like to write it in my appointment calendar because it makes me smile and does some of my whistling in the dark for me.

What I want to write about, though, is the opportunity this momentary sojourn in limbo provides. The chance for empathy, for solidarity, maybe even for transformation.  This "waiting room" is a powerful location from which to look at life.  From which to consider what it means to be healthy.  And what it might mean to discover that there's a problem in your cozy little world you didn't know you had, back when you were organizing your worries and aggravations in order of their apparent importance.  Only yesterday.

Because here in The Waiting Room, a lot of those preoccupations lose their attraction.  Along with our current obsession with how bad we need a haircut, what a mess the fridge is, what, in the messy fridge, might still pass for dinner.  Or "Are the little lines around my eyes making inroads onto my complete, entire face?" 

All that dims.  And we get a chance to look around and see that this room is crowded with everyone who has ever walked on the planet (guys, too) and realize that even for the healthy, even for the whole, even for the young and beautiful, time runs out.  Whatever the news at the end of the waiting -- good, not so good, bad -- life is short.  And apparently, at least in its obvious corporeal manifestation, finite.

We know this.  We even believe this.  But for the most part, except in moments such as these and, of course, in Fitzgerald's famous dark night of the soul "where it's always three o'clock in the morning," the knowledge is purely theoretical. 

So, I'm writing this not to bum us out -- I hate being bummed out; ask anyone who knows me -- but to wake us up.  I need waking up.  Ask anyone who ... yeah.

Life is so magnificent.  The world is so rich with reality.  With immediacy.  With truth.  And light.  With that basic, fundamental human design each of us shares with all the others.  Every one of us born fresh and innocent.  All traveling, in spite of impossible differences, side by side, to a conclusion we see, at best, through a glass darkly. 

Here, where our lives, our plans, our opinions are most vulnerable, we have the chance to shed a scrap or two of "I."

And draw comfort and courage from a moment of "we."

Oh, and while we're stuck in here? 

Whaddya say we just pull that cord and see what happens? 


  1. My upcoming repeat boob slam/tit smear (ultrasound) made me stop pouting about not getting cast in ANYTHING, not having any plays coming up, made me stop feeling guilty about not having a job or doing anything productive with my days these days. My doctor was very reassuring and I'm going to put it out of my mind for the next two weeks. It's Christmas, after all.