Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Seneca's Wisdom

“Life’s like a play; it’s not the length 
but the excellence of the acting that matters.”
Seneca the Younger
Roman statesman and philosopher   
(3 BC – AD 65)

When I read this Thought for the Day in the newspaper this morning, I considered how true it still is.  Seneca may have lived 2000 years ago, but the truths of life continue on through the millennia.  In our day, as it was in Seneca’s day, life is our “play” and the quality of our “acting” matters greatly.  

A diagnosis of a fatal illness brings this into focus in a very abrupt way.   Before diagnosis, life seemed to be spread out before me with many experiences and opportunities  to come far into the future even though I knew then that no one is guaranteed a long life.  After diagnosis, that all changed.  The reality of a shorter future was right there staring me in the face.   

Now, the quality of my “acting” takes on a new dimension.  I have always tried to live with integrity and honesty and with caring for my fellow life travelers.   As a first grade teacher, I had the privilege of educating young children and starting them off on their academic journey.  I felt a great responsibility and took it very seriously.  As I look back on those years, I know I aspired to excellence and hope I achieved it.  When I was Alpha Delta Kappa Washington State President, my theme for the two year term was, “In Pursuit of Excellence.” Those words guided me in all aspects of the responsibilities of that office.

In the time I have left, I want my “acting” to be excellent.  I hope to make a difference by giving back and I am still searching for how I will do that.  With my compromised immune system, volunteering in a school or any place where a lot of people congregate  is probably out of the question.  I am leaning toward volunteering at the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership which is where I had my radiation, chemo and I continue to see my oncologist.  I will be attending a Survivorship series there and may be interested in becoming a facilitator for future classes.  The most important thing is to not waste any of the precious time I have.

On a lighter note, I must take issue with Seneca.  It is easy to say the length of the play doesn’t matter when you don’t have a diagnosis of multiple myeloma or any other life threatening illness.  I still DO want the “play” to last a very long time and the length does matter.   Even though I have that thought, I know that Seneca was right and it is the “excellence of the acting” that matters most.


  1. Hi Carole- I just saw you on my blog page :) Seems like we have several MM commonalities. Both in Education, diagnosed around the same time and probably more (I need to read more of your blog). Just wanted to say HI, and I am sending your link to another MM penpal of mine in Alabama... who is also a retired teacher. Hhhmmmmm, perhaps an academic correlation?? Thanks for finding and following my blog Carole. And congrats for your Remission news!!! Julie from CA :)

  2. PS Carole, we have a gray kitty name Lucy, who looks so much like your Lily!!! The more I read your blog, the more MM commonalities I'm sure I will find! :)

    1. Hi Julie,
      Thank you for following my blog. I do find it comforting to be in contact with other MM patients and you and I are nearly neighbors! WA and CA are pretty close in the scope of the internet. Maybe there is an academic correlation....wouldn't that be interesting.

      Don't you love those gray kitties!? They are just so beautiful with their silvery fur.

      Carole Leigh

    2. Carole,
      I'm Barara Franke the gal that Julie Visner mentioned in her reply. I was diagnosed this past Aug. and as of June 5 I'm in remission...after eight months of chemo and a few weeks of radiation. I'm taking the maintenance drug Revlimid 10 mg. and doing well. I am also a retired teacher (2nd gtrade). It is ironic that all of us are or have been teachers and now we have Multiple Myeloma! COULD THERE BE A CONNECTION. I'm dont forward many e-mail messages, but some are too cute plus laughter has been a big part of my therapy. I'll look for your e-mail address on your blog, but if not please send it to me...bfranke108@charter.net. I'll understand if you don't want any forwards!

      Three year ago I fell down a set of outisde five steps in a downpour and tore the meniscus in my right knee plus from all of my physical activities the cartilage is almost gone! I'm scheduled to a knee replacement Wed. July 18th. Both my oncologist and Myeloma specialist Dr. Lonail at Emory told me to go ahead and repair the knee. The knee hurts so much and it's difficult to walk...tried all the shots etc., but it's time. I'm so ready and eager to for the surgery...I may be singing a different tune Wed. June 18.

      Praise God you are in remission too and I'll add you to my prayer list along with Julie.

      Friends warm you with their presence, trust you with their secrets, and remember you in their prayers

      Barbara Franke

    3. Hi Barbara,
      Welcome to my blog! I am so happy to hear that you are in remission. At my last oncologist appointment on Thursday, I found out I don't have to go back for two months except for a Zometa infusion. I have been going every month since last October when I finished maintenance and before that even more frequently.

      I do know at least two other teachers with multiple myeloma and it does seem odd that there are so many of us. I also have an aunt who died of it in 1959. Now her oldest son (80 yrs. old) has it, but he is doing pretty well.

      My good friend had the same type of knee surgery that you will be having and it went very well and yours will too!!

      My email address is in my profile. I will add you to my prayer list, too. Let me know how the knee surgery goes.

      Carole Leigh