The Unsinkable brian cork™

Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

cancer is NOT a journey

August10

there exists a walking and waking nightmare. its a perilous path that requires us to be ever vigilant, and ready, willing and able to thumb Satan in his blood-shot pale eyes.

spare me the platitudes and existentialist bull-shit. cancer is not a journey.

Thursday was Joanne’s fourth chemotherapy session, and mid-point for the course. that is always followed by a Nuestra shot to increase her white blood cell count. interestingly, that ends-up being the most painful part of the treatment. listening to her description of the pain, it sounds like what The Wolverine must go through when he deploys his talons and/ or regenerates.

that said, she is tough as Wolverine; any super hero, to be certain.

the good news is that the cancer is evidently not in the lymph-nodes. we caught this bitch early and we responded with pace and a sense of purpose. I recruited, petitioned and secured the best surgical and oncology team in the Southeast. the two masses have apparently responded well to chemotherapy. thusly, her prognosis is good. if we remain on-plan, we have the BIG surgery November 6th. hopefully we are in the recovery and healing phase by mid-December.

me? I am restless. resolute. exhausted. encouraged. relieved that my daughters seem to find comfort in me. I miss my wife. she has already told me nothing is going to be the same. I’ve never loved her more. I can’t ever be more angry at something else, ever again. thank God for modern medicine, and my Jeep – oh… and a sense of purpose to stay fit, and, possibly, sane.

go read another and prior post of mine: https://www.unsinkablebriancork.com/2013/03/08/riding-that-big-glassy-fronted-wave-of-life/ do it!

“live your life darling. all of it. question everything. accept nothing.” – Barbara Anne Cork, Wife to one, Mother to all

mere survival is not an option. this must be about “thrival”. I made that up; but will see it through.

UPDATE:

when this episodic travesty finds it’s end, Chuck Papageorgiou is taking me fishing.

also… Denis McDonough, himself, and politics aside, says he wants to sit quietly with me and smoke a very good cigar.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters

brian patrick cork

milestones and memories

December23

so…

the only being I’m probably really important to is my dog, Rowdy.

reference:

Rowdy can run.

Rowdy is alive and well.

and, with my vital role in the world always vitally suspect, my wife Joanne constantly rolling her eyes at me is telling.

but, that said, the point of this post, today, is to correlate two stories (and, a personal mission):

last night, against the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions receiver, Calvin Johnson, aka “Megatron”, broke the legendary Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record.

(sorry about the obnoxious advertisement)

he’s said some great things leading up to that. and, it’s likely the stage is set for many more a terrific bon mot, but the following quote caught me straight between the eyes, and to heart…

“It’s an accomplishment that took a lot of work,” Johnson said after the game. “You’re still in the moment – in the play that just happened, so I was still focused. I don’t think I even said anything when I gave my dad the ball. I just gave him a hug. But when I think back on it, it’s a special moment.”

as soon as I read that, my mind instantly went to the day of my college graduation from Radford University.

I probably did not belong in college at the on-set. but, my Mom and Dad leveraged an uncommon force-of-will to get me there. long story short, I’ve worked every day to have earned that. but, I can’t remember saying thanks to my Dad.

to wit…

“hey Dad. I sure to love you. and, I miss you. Haley Anne and Emma Jo have been out-right cheated by never having you in their lives, physically. but, almost every day they get a ‘Grandad story’. yeah… sometimes they roll their eyes. but, to be certain, another day they will realize the value.

two days, moments actually, often pop into my head, and typically at the seemingly most random times…

the last moment I saw you alive. we had just spent a couple of hours at your hotel while you were visiting Los Angeles on business. you had told me _____ was no good for me and to find the right girl (Dad never met Joanne, but he would adore her). I was listening. and, as I swaggered down the hall, I looked back and you were standing near the door to your room, sort of leaning against the wall with your hands shoved casually in your pockets gazing rather enigmatically at me. it was a tough read. but, I saw love, pride, sadness… a lot of stuff.

I took that moment for granted, just like I always took the too few years, months, weeks, days, hours and seconds I had with you.

then there was graduation day at Radford. Mom could not make it because she was dying of cancer at home. oddly, the import of that just struck me harder than ever before as I tap these words into existence. I know you were suffering. but, you were at Radford for me, and for the moment. a lot had gone-on the days leading up to that. I had sold a business and was sitting on some serious cash. Greg had drunk too much at a fraternity party and almost killed me, Eddie an himself driving back to my apartment. I had found Heather Hillier an hour before the ceremony, and then failed to look her in the eye and admit I had blown it by not ending-up with her instead of Dede (see below).

but, after the whooping-and-hollering and throwing of caps into the air, I found you standing off to the side by the fountain (Radford collective: you blew it by what you’ve relegated the fountain to). you had your coat looped through your arm with it being such a balmy Spring. and, of course, you had both that distant smile on your face – and, such a Gatsby air about yourself. were you a Last Gentleman a la, Walker Percy, after all?”

I do recall saying, “well… we did it”. however, I can’t recall much else. and, it was a bummer that you were distracted about Mom, and what lay ahead with Greg, the police, and all of that…

so…

Thank You.

despite my efforts to immortalize what I understood (or, not) about you on this blog over the years, and in stories to friends-and-family, I’ll probably never fully appreciate what that day meant to you, and on my behalf.

you grew up damn-dirt-poor (your words). but, your success is beyond measure. not just as a military officer. but, as a man and Dad. I know you had demons. and, they scarred us all. but, none of that could hide your efforts and the unflinching love and effort you put into your sons. Mom fought like hell to get me attention from college coaches despite my grades. but, you fought the odds and made it possible for me to be there. you never really talked about your own personal commitment to education, your advanced degrees (all long-after you were married and with kids), all that. what you cared about was Greg and me; our education. it was meaningful to you. so, graduation day was all the more special.

after you were gone, and I was able to get to Omaha, and while I was sorting through your affects, my mind a bit numb and body wracked with grief, I came upon a small box with my name neatly (nobody else ever had clean hand-writing like yours) stenciled across the top, and along one side (probably just for good measure). in that box were some momentos that you had carefully accumulated and I was unaware of… one of my running medals (why that one? …wait… I know why), a fishing hook, and a Political Science position paper I had written for Dr. Nick Pappas in my (ironically) Sophomore year with the words, “well done…” scrawled in a corner.

in my minds-eye, I see myself, with a re-wind like an old tape-to-tape reel, approaching you, giving you another hug, then stepping-back with an effort to be the man you saw, taking your hand firmly in my own (you taught me the importance of a firm hand-shake with eye-to-eye contact), and calmly state, “thank you Dad. I fully appreciate that everything you did since the day I was born was for, us. and, while you have given me an uncommon gift that will be measured more-and-more by the days yet ahead, this moment is for you. I want you to carry the memory of this day along with the notion that I could never conceive of the result without you being part of it every step leading up to, through, and beyond it”.

thanks for the ball, Dad.

today, I’m listening to Autumn Leaves, by Ed Sheeran. Haley Anne found this artist and shared him with me.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

proverbs and Promises

April12

I use the phrase “Chinese Interesting” fairly often.

NOTE: that video will make a lot more sense once you’ve read this post (the first minute or so will likely suffice).

I can’t recall where I first heard that phrase, and you probably don’t care.

however, recently, while, again, walking someone new to my story through the events around “Colorado” (there are more lessons in those horrific days than I’ll ever be able to use for good, but I’m sure going to try) a coaching client of mine asked me what it (the phrase) meant. I will almost invariably offer this cryptic summary (that I believe is a proverb):

“the promise can be in the punishment, and the punishment can be in the promise”.

I’ve found that it’s normal to pursue passions and outcomes. but, just not to become overly attached to those outcomes. mostly, I suppose, because trying to predict the result is much like playing craps or timing the stock market. my view is, if I keep doing the right thing, it’s harder to go wrong. for example, I may not know if Christ rose from the dead to seal the deal between God and mankind. but, I hope He did. and, if I try with both a will and purpose to live my life like Him, I’m more likely to do good (or, at least better). by the way, I do feel that this requires courage, in some form, because, unlike stated Christians, for example, I also don’t know if there is a reward for all of that best-efforts, other than being remembered as a true and goodly man.

I know many of you have read about my seeking heart a lot before today. but, and trust me, you will again. I simply don’t shy away from it or Colorado. my past life in Colorado has little to do with my faith, but is as much a part of me as whom I want to be.

man… that was a tough and awkward sentence to work through.

I found myself in a lot of trouble in Colorado, even though I thought I was doing the right thing.

by the way, Colorado was not all bad. that place gave me Haley Anne, allowed me to be a firefighter, taught me that more men in that community valued more the man I was over what I did, and, ultimately, set the stage for what I do today. it certainly gave me the props for one of the best days of my life with, Sammy: The best argument I ever knew for Dogs in Heaven.

so… the art is in being happy regardless of the outcome. I find comfort in that tenant of life is attached to most of the meaningful religions, in some form or fashion. I like and appreciate the consistency.

but, to put it into perspective, I’ll offer a parable that I believe is Buddhist in it’s origins. and, that is close enough to being Chinese because I’m certain it’s roots are realized, there:

a great story is the Zen master and his student walking by a river. a prostitute was there and needed to be carried over the river. the Zen master picked her up and carried her across the river, and then gently put her down on firm soil. then the Zen master and student moved on an continued their journey. a few hours later the student, who was evidently agitated, finally asked the question: ‘Master, how could you touch and help that prostitute! that’s against what we believe in!’ and, the Master said, ‘I left her by the river. why are you still carrying her?’

what’s my point, here?

well… those events changed my life and formed who I am today and what I do going forward for the rest of my days. I hope all of it put me on my own goodly journey. that’s certainly part of my own prayers. nonetheless, God knows that I am in pain every day with the burden.

that was the punishment being in the promise.

so, each hour is spent trying to recognize the face of my Father (both earthly and spiritual), and be the best man He bothered to create. yesterday I was never good enough. tomorrow I have to be better.

that has to be a good thing, right? can’t the promise be in the punishment, for me? no Kobayashi Maru, that.

today, I’m listening to: Losing My Religion, the Glee Cast version. but, just so we’re clear, the REM effort will remain dear to my heart.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

what is it with the "high road"?

January10

I am a deeply (deeply) flawed human bean.

shy, really. and, often socially awkward. It’s not that I could, or should be compared to Howard Hughes, mind you. it’s just that I am always (always) focused. and, driven, of course, with a keen desire to win and prevail – and, with a higher standard.

it sets me apart. and, this can unnerve (most) people.

when I was eleven years old my younger brother, Greg, leveraged a lot of poor judgment and decided to toss some insults at a neighborhood bully named Tony.

I was eleven, Greg was six, and Tony was thirteen.

Tony came from a large (as in both physical stature and head-count) family, that lived up the street, and around the corner from us. for a couple of years I thought his name was actually “Hay Tooney” – you know, like a professional ball player. every time anyone (and, everyone) ever addressed, called for, or was looking at him, they would always (and, loudly) say, “Haay Tooney”!

in any event, he went after Greg. dude did not even hesitate; he was on my little brother like sewage out of the pipe. Greg had his little legs churning up our drive way for all he was worth with a head-start only just good enough that allowed for him to start calling for me. to this day I can’t remember much as I hurled myself out of the TV room, through the garage, and then with ten running steps later, full body into Tony. he already had a piece of fence in his beefy hands that he clearly meant to flail Greg with. instead, he beat me relentlessly with that piece of wood but I kept swinging and pushing. suddenly his resolve melted, possibly with my fury, and then he was on his back with me turning his nose into lasagne.

so… my Mom, the proper Sacramento debutante she was her whole life made me march over to his house the next day and apologize for giving him a beating.

“we are Cork’s. we take the higher road. you’ll understand better as you get older”, is all would say about it.

Tony and his Dad, with a small army behind them, met me at the front door. I extended my hand and simply said, “I apologize”.

…but, I didn’t mean it. not at all. I, in truth, felt like a flat-out liar. I wanted to cry. even howl, maybe.

“okay”, and sullenly, is all he said. his Dad said nothing. he just stared at me with a distant and mildly confused look splayed across his big bland olive-skinned face with a light stubble.

…the high road?

recently, I’ve lost something. and, man, it is, or was, dear to me. but, it’s really gone. and, I feel like it was stolen. now I have people that think I need to take that damn high road again and say things like, “best of luck to you. I offer my fullest support. I know you’ll do great”.

but, my heart isn’t in it. I did my best, and it was really good. the results were evident. now, some how and inexplicably, I’m taking a beating. and, it REALLY hurts. but, I have to go to the people that hurt me and take the high road because it’s, collectively, (maybe) good (maybe) for some of the people I care deeply (deeply) about.

I took a hard run Saturday and I admitted to God (but, He already knew, of course) that I did not want to take the high road. I wanted to be hurt and angry. I wanted to win. prevail. …protect people from the evil that I know is looming.

“come on, God”, said I . you and I both know there won’t be sincerity. and, what about hypocrisy?

I really do want to honor God with my response to this challenge, and the people that I’ve influenced. there’s a broken part of me that’s looking for someone(s) to be mad at. I’d love to exchange that for the patience and grace that He has, and hopefully will continue to show me. but, that’s so hard, right now.

that’s me being authentic.

this is another Kobayashi Maru, isn’t it.

however, as I was cooling down (literally, and miraculously in my heart) I knew that if I just said the words, something like, “it’s okay. I know you all will be great. I support you all”, that would, eventually (eventually) become the reality. it’s what they all expect of me, after all. let’s be very (very) clear. the words would not be sincere. they would ring hollow, in my own ears, in fact.

but, I’ll have said them. and, they might then have a life of their own, and there could be an effect.

my pain is meaningless, really. the people involved mean more to me than, well, me.

so… I wish them all the best (maybe because I want them to be happy and the best they can all be). I’ll have to move on.

…please. please (please), allow them to make me proud. and, remember, there has to be a difference between being pleased and being satisfied.

not because I say so, but because I really mean it.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

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What’s All This About?

"What am I looking at?", you might wonder.

Lots of stuff.

Meanwhile, here, I discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

You'll also learn things about, well, things, like people you need to know about, and information about companies you can't find anywhere else.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman - and, authentic.

brian cork by John Campbell





photos by John Campbell

 

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