“I’ve seen some of the biggest bitches come in, and they’re still alive.”

Dan Cayer
2 min readJan 4, 2022

We are now dropped into the chute between Thanksgiving and New Year’s which can be full of grasping and confusion (for me). To turn in another direction, I wanted to share some lovely, thought-provoking content I came across recently that seems so appropriate for this newsletter.

It’s necessary to be reconnected to the truths that, while powerful, have a habit of receding in the face of entertainment and self-preoccupation.

So here’s three great pieces — two short essays and one podcast.

1) “ I’ll Tell You the Secret of Cancer “ by Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic magazine.

From one of my favorite writers at The Atlantic, the essay opens with:

“Are you someone who enjoys the unsolicited opinions of strangers and acquaintances? If so, I can’t recommend cancer highly enough.”

Always funny and unsparing, Flanagan shows the pivotal moment when she confessed to a clinical psychologist who works at an oncology center that “I wasn’t doing the work of healing myself. I wasn’t being positive.” The psychologist’s response taught Flanagan the “secret” of cancer.

2) “ Long Covid and the Blind Spots of American Medicine ,” a conversation between Ross Douthat and Megan O’Rourke for The Ezra Klein Show podcast.

Douthat is a conservative columnist for The New York Times and O’Rourke is an award-winning journalist and poet. They both have recently written books that share their long and confounding journey to understand and deal with Chronic Lyme disease. Their conversation touched on so many issues that are of great interest to me: the anxiety of living without a diagnosis, the strengths and limits of conventional medicine, and O’Rourke’s cutting-edge reporting on what we are learning about “long Covid.”

3) “ One Thing I Don’t Plan to Do Before I Die is Make a Bucket List “ by Kate Bowler, The New York Times.

A funny, counter-cultural reflection from a 35-year-old Divinity professor with Stage IV cancer. She contrasts the quests and pilgrimages of medieval times with the “experiential capitalism” of books like 1,000 Places to See Before You Die.

“Instead of helping us grapple with our finitude, they approximate infinity. They imply that with unlimited time and resources, we can do anything, be anyone.”

She wonders, “Do people age into acceptance?”

I hope you enjoy these. Please share another read/listen/watch in the comments below. Also, clicking the heart icon below signals to the algorithmic powerbrokers that this newsletter is, in fact, worth reading and recommending to others!

Thank you,
Dan

Originally published at https://dan-cayer-new.squarespace.com on November 29, 2022.

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Dan Cayer

Meditation + Alexander Technique teacher. Author of “Don’t Get Better,” forthcoming guide to sanity, humor, and wisdom during illness. dancayer.co