Hey my people, when I came down with cancer, I had a powerful weapon on my side: I already believed that even life's smallest moments were worth fighting for. This song is one of the things that gave me that idea: "Make Your Garden Grow," from the musical Candide.
Who's Candide? He's one of the dumbest, numbest, most gullible characters in the history of storytelling—basically, an 18th-century Forrest Gump. Candide maintains his blind optimism throughout a fantastic series of disasters that include war, shipwreck, the Inquisition, and prostitution (endured by his girlfriend Cunegonde, who gets quite a kick out of it—but that's a different song).
When Candide finally wakes up and sees what a fool he's been, he sings "Make Our Garden Grow." It's the climax of the show, and it's hair-raising. The lyrics are about doing a simple day's chores—baking bread and chopping wood. But wait for the third verse, where those homely tasks are elevated in a rush of music that would flood a cathedral: "We're neither pure nor wise nor good/ We'll do the best we know/ We'll build our house and chop our wood/ And make our garden grow."
In two weeks I hit the cancer center for my six-month checkup. I take the blood test and wait for the result. I don't like it and I don't have to.
But today I grouted tile, fed my handsome dog, and listened to "Make Our Garden Grow." I'll take this day with me when I go.