He is on Everest Right Now

Right now, while I am sitting on my couch, or in my office, I will not admit to which, Dr. Brandon Fisher is less than a mile from the summit of Mt. Everest.IMG_0702

Hopefully, possibly before you read this, he will have reached the pinnacle of the world- literally. That place is one of the most over used metaphors, most cliched, most exaggerated, and he will likely, hopefully, do what we hyperbolize.

My thoughts and prayers are with Brandon Fisher and the Radiating Hope team.unnamed

Where the Streets Have No Names: Joshua Tree

A good friend of mine took a trip down to our neck of the woods to visit two Disneylands; the one in Anaheim for his kids, and the one in Joshua Tree for him.


He climbs both cliffs and mountains. He climbs so much he built a climbing wall in his house. I also climb the walls of my home but only in a figurative suburban stagnation sort of way.IMG_0755

I do well when right in the middle of everything, or the middle of nowhere. It is those in between places that cause me trouble. Maybe it is because my mind and heart spend so much time in the middle ground that my body wants to be in a place my ideology refuses to go.

Joshua Tree National Park is beautifully nowhere.IMG_0719
Being nowhere doesn’t mean you do nothing. You always have to do something.

Maybe that is why the in between spaces give me trouble. Nothing there feels like you are really doing anything. It is all relative. When in New York, there is so much going on everywhere that you can just coast right along. Everything everywhere is something. The first time I saw Paris I unexpectedly fell in love because everywhere I looked was something. Not just something but something recognizable, something fantastic, something other places (Vegas) try to imitate. Something to see and do is everywhere.IMG_0796

When you are nowhere, doing anything, even just walking, becomes something in relation to your surroundings. The Bonneville Salt Flats, a giant stretch of flat nothingness, makes even the most insignificant person feel like a focal point; because while there, you are the focal point. There is nothing else.

In between, where strip malls live, nothing feels like anything. You have to get in your car and drive to go anywhere, and when you get there, you don’t feel like you have really travelled. If you don’t drive anywhere and decide to stay at home, or just in one place, there will be things all around you and still, nothing will happen.


Hence volition.

When in between one must do what none of us, at least not I, want to do. We must summon our own motivation, an inner compulsion. Like a rocket. A boat in a river doesn’t need someone to paddle; it will easily go with the current. A Rose in the desert doesn’t need to outshine anyone. It is the only thing shinning. A Rocket must have some inner propulsion to launch itself from a sedentary position into space and that is hard to do. Rocket scientists are a cliché for a reason.IMG_0716

While in Joshua Tree I did not launch into orbit but I did climb up a rock. I didn’t climb very far, but climbing at all was more than I had done the week before. I think my friend was the key. In fact maybe friends, or at least other people, are the key to volition. He called and invited me. I probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise. Even if I had gone I wouldn’t have climbed. You see I don’t have the equipment or the know-how.  Thanks to him calling I was able to do.

I wonder how many other things work that way?IMG_0707


Dr. Fisher I Presume?

Dr. Fisher is the sort of man who would become lost in Africa, only to turn up in ten unexpected places all at once. I met him when he turned up in Philadelphia for a residency in radiation oncology.

Dr. Fisher in purple tie, likely contemplating Thoreau.

I got to know him when we worked together mentoring a group of young men. He was young, slim, and came off as quiet to the point of being non-communicative. He had this magical ability to either have slightly shaggy, longish, hair or a buzz cut, never in between. I saw him mostly at church on Sundays where he would normally wear a white shirt, tie, and khakis rarely ironed but all were always well fitted.

I recall once seeing him wearing the skinniest tie I had ever seen. As I shook his hand hello he just smiled slightly and continued on his way. As he walked away I realized it was a draw string tied in a full Windsor around his neck. Neither of us ever mentioned the draw string. He rarely mentions anything.

It is natural to assume that those who don’t mention things have nothing to talk about. I guess many made this mistake with Dr. Fisher.

The first time my family ate at his home I noticed a sculpture in the entryway. It was a figure with an up stretched arm and clenched fist, the head had short hair in knots about his scalp. The entire figure was greyish, made of hard straight lines, and looked much like a three dimensional figure pulled from La Guernica. There was a poem hand written down the arm and onto the torso. In his living room was a painting or rather a mixed media collage of two people, trees, and text, another of more trees, both by him. They were good. Positioned in one corner of the room was an upright cannon barrel with a bright red bowling ball perched on top.

I have admittedly not spent time in the homes of many doctors but this was obviously the home of an artist.


Dr. Fisher spent a summer living in a VW bus after high school. He can recite lengthy Thoreau poems on demand. And he cures cancer.
on Mt. Ranier

A couple years ago he started a non-profit called “Radiating Hope.” It is a partnership program that raises money to send used radiation machines to third world countries. Turns out America replaces machines regularly with newer and better models.
Some nations don’t replace machines with new ones because they never had any to begin with.

in Panama

In fine Fisher fashion he doesn’t just “raise money”, that would be normal. He fund raises by climbing mountains. Big mountains. He has sights set on the seven summits.

at Drexel

I am writing this from an air conditioned/heated office, sitting in a padded chair, and I’m sure Dr. Fisher is busy doing something better. He is the sort of person who doesn’t just let things go. He acts. He acts while most of us just pose.