Thursday, April 19, 2012

To Levon and Choices

Here’s a message from Levon’s wife and daughter. It’s from his website.

“Dear Friends,
Levon is in the final stages of his battle with cancer. Please send your prayers and love to him as he makes his way through this part of his journey.

Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage...

We appreciate all the love and support and concern.
From his daughter Amy, and wife Sandy”
Levon is gonna know something—probably a lot sooner than most of us. Haughty as hell for me to say so and my arrogance dawns on me amidst these sentences. For all I know, Levon is gonna outlive me. But according to his wife and daughter, Levon has settled into his departure journey.
Choices. Levon had to make some huge ones about a decade and a half ago. Cancer was gonna take his voice—at least the surgeons were gonna take his voice when they carved away the offending visitor. Cancer and the choices demanded by it are perverse that way. Even with all of the advances in cancer treatment, often times a big part of the cure manifests collateral trauma. Scorched earth tactics…Hail Mary’ed at the always pernicious—other times aggressive and high minded visitor.
Levon chose not to be put to sleep while surgeons, scalpels-at the ready, waited to carve on him. Being put to sleep and not knowing who or what you will be--on the other side. Shit. Levon opted for radiation instead of a laryngectomy. Choices. Trade-offs of this magnitude have an uncanny ability to focus the mind—to make shit that was so pressing…so important just fifteen minutes prior to the need for choice—absurdly irrelevant. I’m not a betting man but if I was I’d put my money on the fact that Levon was pleased with his choice. Look at any photo of Levon from the last decade and even amidst his frailty, his light—shines.
Choices. I sent the following email to a friend yesterday and now as I re-read it, it resonates differently amidst the news that Levon, his choices made, is on the home stretch. Here it is…

“It seems to me that it’s about being at peace with your choices—at least that’s how I read it. (it –the email that prompted this—my email in response to my friend) And I’m talking about big choices. Life changing selections—decisions of forever. Most of me says that you’ve made and probably won’t renege on the big decision(s) regarding the necessary changes needed to assure that your journey, your purpose and thus your legacy are best realized. It doesn’t mean they’ve been easy decisions just because you’ve set (hopefully) rather firmly, the thin stakes in the ground and the twine between them that mark the foundation for the better you. Further…

… even though the boundary stakes are set and twine marked—framing the next series of choices—it doesn’t make them painless even in their obviousness. The tactical maneuvering and the cascade—the tumble-down of other decisions, agreements, compromises and sometimes painful trade-offs are the things that you are now amidst. And just because they are all necessary to build the new trajectory, they aren’t always easy.

So I hope that your maneuvering continues, even with fits and starts and hiccups and setbacks, on a positive and purposeful course—so that you too, will be forever mostly complete…or at least happy with your choice.”

So here’s to Levon. And to choices.


Main Line Sportsman said...

I could watch that segment of The Last Waltz every day from now til when my time is up....I like it that much...and Leon is a huge facet of that appeal. Or we could talk about The Night they drove....oh Hell...I am getting choked up thinking about this great artist passing away.

Turling said...

Well, I'll be having that song stuck in my head all day. At least he gets to do this on his own terms.

Golf Tango Hotel said...

Great post, and as always great advice to your friend. Understanding the consequences of your choices and then being happy and at peace with them even through the difficulties are certainly an aspect of a well-lived life. Levon certainly seems to have lived his life well and as you point out at peace with his choices. Aside from his talents as a musician (there is something about The Weight particulary that always touches something in me), it is my understanding that he was a gentleman as well and helped to inspire a much younger generation of musicians. God rest his soul.

yoga teacher said...

I've just finished listening to Krista Tippet's (On Being) interview with the poet Christian Wiman, who spoke eloquently about many things, including facing his own death from an incurable cancer. I can't get these lines he wrote out of my mind:

"Peace came to the hinterlands of our minds,
too remote to know, but peace nonetheless,"

and how they might also describe the way he and Levon are facing their limited time here and how unsettling that must be, but still living with and honoring the choices they made and readying themselves to accept whatever comes next. I hope to do so well.

BethAnn said...

I only just started reading your blog; I don't know why since I've been following Alice @ Summer is a Verb for awhile. Regardless, it is so coincidental that you wrote about choices and purpose this week. Only this past weekend, as I strolled through Paris, I was asking myself if I was living my life with purpose or if I was simply letting others' purposes navigate the course of my life. Also, I may potentially put myself in the position to have to make some choices; I don't have to, I could stay the course, but I'm not quite sure my current course is one of my own making.

Your post just gives me strength to keep working through this thinking, these choices, instead of putting them aside and ignoring them which is so often easier to do. And I just wanted you to know how much of an effect it had on me.

Looking forward to reading more.

Young Fogey said...

I thought that song had been renamed to "Up on Physically Differently Abled Creek."