David Menasche's Vision Quest
For the last fifteen years, David Menasche has been an educator, touching the lives of thousands of students. Despite the fact that he has been battling brain cancer for the past six years, he has continued to work diligently to instill within his students a love of learning, life, and themselves. Unfortunately, his condition has worsened, causing him to lose most functionality on the left side of his body, as well as almost all of his vision. This has caused him great anxiety, as he is no longer able to perform the service that has given him so much joy and fulfillment. So he has decided to set out on a vision quest. He hopes to travel by rail, bus, and stranger in hopes of finding a new purpose and meaning for his life. His intention is to travel from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. With enough funding, we are hoping to create a documentary of this journey.
**For those curious to whom this money is actually going right now, even though it says it is going to ME, it is really going straight to David. For those who don't know me, I've known David almost all of my life. He was my first boyfriend. We went through Nova Middle and Nova High together. We have remained friends for all of these years and I have great love and respect for both David and Paula. Thanks for all the donations!
101 days spent on the road
31 cities visited
63 hours of audio recorded
1840 pictures taken
75 former students have become 75 close friends
OK people,That's it for now. I need a break. Tomorrow I catch a plane to Florida where I will spend a few days taking care of a few things and then I'm off to New Orleans to find a place for me to live and for you to visit.
Heidi Goldstein, longtime friend of David and librarian.
Your still needy friend, David
Today is my anniversary. Six years ago today I found out that I was my own worst enemy. My own cells had turned against me. I had brain cancer. Some time ago, I got used to the idea idea that I was doomed to die from this. In fact, I came to terms with the stark reality of my destiny almost immediately. That first night swirling with confusion, rage, and tears, but after that, I felt a distinct clarity. I was going to die. I became resolute in this fact. Cancer had taken my future. There was no reason to deny, argue, or question my lot. The cards had been dealt and I was holding aces and eights. The dead mans hand was mine to play. I opted for surgery shortly after to reduce the size of my brain tumor and hopefully stave off death for a time. It worked. Unfortunately, an unexpected side effect of having a portion of your diseased brain removed is significant memory loss. My childhood was gone. Cancer taking away my future was one thing, but for it to take my past seemed obscenely cruel. Without memories of the past to occupy my mind, my thoughts increasingly lingered on my uneasy future. A few months ago my father said David, youre such a better person since you got sick. The statement sent my mind reeling. How was I different? Why was it better? One of the more profoundly abstract realizations that began to chip away at my psyche was that I might no longer even be me. Arent we shaped by our experiences? I wondered about others that had gone through equally traumatizing occurrences. For instance, a woman who was raped as a childs personality would be deeply and forever altered by the insidious experience. It might have made her forever frightened, paranoid, or unable to enjoy intimacy. But what if she forgot it ever happened? Would she still be the same person? Was I now that my own traumas, victories, and birthday parties had faded into the mist? My mind was a mess but at least I was still physically capable, then cancer came for my present when it took away the use of the left side of my body and the majority of my sight. The sum result of my disease thus far is loss. Cancer has in one way or another stripped me of everything I found dear. I am now on the road without a wife, job, car, or house. I am a vagabond drifter, but I do have a purpose. I am going to travel to as many places as I can to meet with the people who knew me in hopes of reclaiming my past through their recollections and establishing a future through the new relationships being made and experience to be had. The fact that I am travelling alone on a train through the winter to meet with unfamiliar people in strange and new cities while diseased, blind and crippled will not deter me. The need to know what Ive forgotten and learn who I really was and am is too all consuming to be shelved by fear or logic. I am compelled by my curiosity. I do not know what destinations and realizations I will ultimately come to, but I intend to find out. Ive spent time and met with people in Orlando, Tallahassee, Pensacola, New Orleans, and Atlanta so far. Next up is Washington DC, Blacksburg, Trenton, New York, and Boston before heading out west for more answers. I must be out there somewhere. Some good has to come of this journey; after all, its my anniversary. Thank you all. Love, David.
How can I send a private message to David?
Former student Tracey Siepser mentioned (see right column) that she could map David's path to California. Now we can all collaborate on that using this interactive Google Map http://goo.gl/maps/fbH8T . Since anyone can edit, please ensure you leave as many details as possible and use caution (don't delete someone else's post).