"Life is hard, " he said in a tone that implied he was voicing a new idea, an original thought. She glanced at him out of the corner of a narrow, yet twinkling eye. "Compared to what?" she retorted. [The picture is of the Los Angeles River running through that city. It is today little more than a concrete ditch occasionally holding a bit of fetid water housing a generation of mosquitoes.] This past year and a half has been very difficult for me and also for several of my very good friends. I won't name you or tag you. You know who you are. I am now watching helplessly as my health, already bad, deteriorates more. Now I'm having trouble breathing. That is often a bit frightening. No. Not a bit. A whole lot terrifying. Getting in and out of bed leaves me breathless. I still have all the usual pains in the knees and hip. For some reason - or maybe for no reason - my GERD has decided this is a good time to act up. Yet, we are a tough bunch, all of us, you and me. We don't know how to give up, even when we feel like that's what we want to do. Feeling ourselves weakening, we are all really growing stronger so we'll be able to handle the challenges yet to come. As I have said many times, it's all attitude...and the most useful attitude is charhdi kala, to live with your spirit rising upward, even when, especially when, that seems impossible. Avoid self-pity, no matter how attractive and justified it seems. It is a killer. "Why me?" I don't know. It doesn't matter. What matters is to keep going, one foot in front of the other, resting as often as necessary. Don't beat yourself up for occasional feelings of hopelessness. Look at what you have already done. You have come this far, farther than you ever could have imagined. My beloved warrior friends, we are in this together. We are the living veterans of our individual and collective battles. As long as we hold tight to NO SURRENDER! we will eventually win our wars. I promise. I love you. The fighter still remains.