What 2014 looks like for me

2014 is a big year for me because it may be my last year.
Some of you know me, some of you don’t. For those who don’t:

I have cancer in my bones. I am on a fairly clear trajectory toward death.
So 2014 is a year for wrapping up loose ends, for evaluating, and for sharing what I have learned in my life.

I want to use this blog format for doing some of this work, and in this particular blog, to outline my intentions.

In the last few years I have turned to writing. Here is bit of the chronology of what I have written which will serve as points of reference for the work I hope to do in this series of blogs:

1. About five years ago I went on a ten day Walk for Climate Rescue. At one of the evening programs on that walk we were challenged to make a five-year plan: what changes in our lives do we hope to have accomplished in five years. I articulated those goals in a sermon I preached at my church soon after that walk.
2. In 2010 I discovered that my prostate cancer had not been contained by previous radiation treatment, but had metastasized and was now in my bones. At that point I wrote an essay which first, articulated my basic beliefs about our world and second, evaluated how I had done in working toward my five-year plan.
3. The sharing of that essay with friends had its most fruitful blossoming in the beginning of a continuing communication and friendship with Ether Emery, who also encouraged me to write down the stories of my life. I finished writing 29 such stories this past year and am intending to self publish them this year under the title:
NORMAL:
Stories from my Life:
A Normal Person in an Abnormal Society

Since 2010 I have received several kinds of treatment for my cancer: hormone therapy, and when that failed, I was involved in a clinical study for a new drug which kept the cancer in check for another period of time. That all changed in April, 2013. The cancer had damaged two of my vertebras sufficiently that in doing some lifting, both were crushed and required two different back surgeries. It was a fairly long drawn-out process that had me bed-ridden for about five months. Meanwhile, the latest cancer treatment failed and for the past three months I have been on more standard Chemo Therapy. I am now trying to rebuild my strength and muscle mass after five months of inactivity, and at the same time fighting the increasing effects of Chemo Therapy.

That is enough about my health, enough to support my sense of urgency for the year 2014.

So with the documents I have described:
1. My five-year plan
2. An assessment of our world and an evaluation of my efforts toward my five-year plan
3. A memoir which looks at how I have lived my values throughout my life

I am now in a position to refine the assessment of our world, building on what I wrote in 2010.

I am now at the point of doing a final evaluation of my work toward my five-year plan.

Following this, I need to look at my one-year plan of what remains for me to do in the year 2014.

I invite you to join me in this process.

I’ll end this first introductory blog with a short summary of the five-year plan I developed five years ago, followed by an outline of my assessment of our world, taken from my 2010 essay:

Summary of my Five-Year Plan

 Repent for thinking it was OK to live as we have been living.
 Don’t look away from the hard reality because it is depressing. Whatever it takes, work though the depression
 Invest in community
 Live simply
 Eat only food, not too much, mainly leaves.

Outline of my assessment of our world

Our world is in serious trouble

The belief that our world, at least the human part of the world, is in serious trouble is a common belief. Former Colorado Governor Richard Lamb, in addressing a UN conference on the environment made the statement “We are living on the shoulders of some steep slopes, all of which lead to disaster.

We are the cause:

By “we,” I mean all of us who accept something so basic as all that is evoked by the word “progress.” This word, by definition, or at least by common usage, implies the basic systems by which human life is now organized, assumes that they are inevitable, and calls them “good”. In saying we are the cause, I mean that our failure to examine the consequences of our way of living, makes us sinfully irresponsible.

More specifically:
1) We (i.e. progressive Democrats) are the cause
By continuing to support systems that will inevitably lead us to disaster.

2) We (i.e. environmental activists) are the cause
By our failure to act on what we do understand, by backing off from a radical understanding, and allowing; even promoting, an analysis which prevents real and needed solutions from coming to the fore

3) We (i.e. highly-educated Protestants) are the cause
By continuing to embrace and elevate the values that have led us to this dire situation.

So that’s a beginning: setting the background thinking for a plan for 2014. Let’s see what we come up with.

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About Newell Hendricks

I have lived a good life. Maybe a counterculture life, maybe a normal life. I have written operas, built houses, been involved with cross-cultural education between Latin America and the U.S, and hardly ever had a job I have helped raise two wonderful children with my amazing wife. It's been a good ride. And I go to church. I've just finished a book of stories from my life, I am still connected to an organization in Nicaragua that promotes sister relationships between communities, faith communities, or schoold, and to the extent that my cancer doesn't pull me down, am attempting to share some of what I have learned, or at least tried out. Welcome, and let's share.
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9 Responses to What 2014 looks like for me

  1. Elena says:

    Dearest Newell: I am so blessed to know you. I have no words to express my profound gratitude for who you are. Whatever happens this year, please know that you have given so, so much; that you have and continue to have a life lived with such intentional purpose. I love you, my friend and THANK YOU, thank you so much for having welcomed me into your life. I shall keep up with you through your posts and beyond. Elena

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    • We have learned a lot from each other in our journies. In my story about Economic activism I wrote about our time together in Miami at the bizarre FTAA ministerial of 2003. Thank you for being my friend and fellow worker toward justice.

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  2. Rich says:

    Newell- words fail me now, unlike most all of those times we swapped stories and solutions to the worlds’ problems while hanging out at The Creamery. There was one time there though, when words did fail, and it was not one of my better moments. My New England, Hilltown Yankee reticence forced me in to silence when you first mentioned your cancer, and I didn’t want to pry so said nothing. But your revelation shocked me, and I’ve never forgotten it, as how could someone so full of life, someone ten years my senior, ride a bicycle from Cambridge to Cummington, uphill both ways(!), and do all that with cancer! But then you showed up the following spring and all seemed good: we continued with stories of our grandkids, more solving of the worlds problems, and just plain good conversation. Since your health has deteriorated and you haven’t been able to come out, I’ve really missed you and our talks. You’re a brave man, much more so than I, and I thank you for providing a means to say all this to you that I might have difficulty saying in person. It’s been a privilege and an honor to know you, and if you’re able to get out here again, I would love to say that to you in person. Rich

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  3. I cannot help but be saddened by your prognosis, but I am inspired by your self-organization to make the most of your time. What if we all had the same prognosis, how much better/intentional would we be living our lives today, this month, this year?

    It nearly seems that this world has been given the same prognosis, and it seems not unrealistic that perhaps you will be a voice that will help us think through the changes. Although I have just met you, via Esther’s blog, I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and ideas and I pray for courage, strength, and renewed energy throughout your whole body… right down to the DNA in every cell, and deep into those bones.

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  4. Tanya Marlow says:

    Your post on Esther’s blog is still resonating in my spirit. I am so shocked and saddened to hear about your prognosis, but I am excited to read more of your words. A life well-lived can leave a great legacy. Blessings.

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    • Tanya, thank you for your words of encouragement. I hope to be able to share and to learn for the larger community that this blog reaches. Do comment on thoughts you have or that I have that resound with you.

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  5. Pingback: 2014: Five-Year Plan: 4. Live Simply | Newell Hendricks

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