Tuesday, January 29, 2008

headlong

You'd think there is one thing that coming very close to death would do for a person.

You'd think it would leave them wanting to live every moment to the fullest.

Yes, I did walk away from a life changing incident, gaining a deeper understanding of how precious life is. For me, like many others, my big life changing event caused me to make a grand reevaluation of my life. But recently I have become to recognize that just having a deeper understanding and a reevaluation does not result in propelling me into action.

Yes, I do view things from a different perspective, but on a day to day basis, I still frequently put much of my life on hold.

At present, what IS beginning to activate me is when I take notice of other people dealing with their big life changing events.

Here is a partial list of people that have run through my awareness pretty much every single day for last several months:

First, the people no longer here:

* My dance teacher and mentor died when she was 57. Cancer. Once she was diagnosed, she passed in a matter of months.

* Another dancer friend died when she was 52. Car accident, she died at the speed of light.

* My ex-father in law. Went from a cancer diagnosis to passing in 5 months. Age 61.


Having an even greater impact on me though, at the moment, are the people still living, that are grappling with a huge shift in their quality of life:

* My dad. A massive stroke just a few years ago, causing him to say to me the other day, "This sure isn't what I thought my retirement would look like."

* James, my buddy that I have been matched up with to visit weekly at the convalescent hospital (through an organization LoveIsTheAnswer). He's 63. Just as he and is his wife were setting to retire, first he had a heart attack, then she died (I can't recall how), and today he is struggling with complications from diabetes so severe that he has now had to permanently commit himself and his disability payments to a convalescent center. He has no family that is willing to care for him (or even visit him). If he did have help, he'd have been able stay at home. It's even worse for him right now, as he has been transferred to a real hospital because he has pneumonia, and as a result of being treated there for so long, he might lose his room at the convalescent facility. It is the only home he has left, and it might be pulled out from underneath him. It sickens me.

* All the rest of the folks at the convalescent hospital that I make shorter visits with, when I stop by to visit James. All of them. And there are lots of them. And most of them are very alone. There but for the grace of God go I.

* J, TheMostImportantGuy's guitar player from a recent band project. She and I are the same age. She has been in the hospital for over four months. She has diabetes and as a result, now other complications. Her whole system is shutting down. They can't seem to figure out how to fix her. Details here. She's a newlywed too, by the way.



I could keep going on and on and on....but I certainly don't need to, and I am sure you get the gist. Even just the above list, incomplete as it is, has had a tremendous impact on me.

I mean, sure....I woke up one day after a car accident with a changed body, and my life was turned topsy-turvy for a bit. Yes, that experience has affected me. It has made me see life as one very precious thing. But even knowing what I know first hand about the fragility of life, I can't say that it propels me to DO anything about my life, actively. I SEE but I don't always DO.

But that list of people up there? Who got cut short? Or the people whose lives do continue, but with a quality of life they would never have dreamed of for themselves?

I just can't take sitting around thinking about it anymore.

A few weeks ago, just thinking and only thinking sunk me way down low.

I have this way of being sort of a psychic sponge when I am confronted with other people's experiences. It doesn't take much for me to feel other people's pain and sadness. I sometimes empathize to the point of personal embodiment, which I am working hard at changing (I'd like to find another way of connecting and being compassionate without soaking it up).

But here is where I am at. Right now. There are things that I want out of life (things I have the means to materialize) that I have been telling myself that I should put off for another time.

What other time??!!
Will there BE another time????
Even if there IS another time, will I even be physically be able to DO it at that time?
Or take ENJOYMENT it??

I am now ready, more than ever, to throw myself headlong at life with a seize the day mentality. And it didn't take looking inward to see that I need to do make some changes.

It took facing outward.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Let this post serve as justification for my upcoming mighty big birthday present to myself.
(not that I need justification..I guess I should call it an explanation)
It will be arriving soon ;-)
Sorry for still being mysterious, but I don't want to jinx anything until it is actually here!

7 comments:

kathy in juneau said...

No obligation to play, but I thought you should know I've bestowed the YMMD award upon you and this here blog...

Kim Ayres said...

It is rarely ever one thing that forces us to make life changes (voluntary ones, that is), but rather an accumulation. One of the things that propelled us to sell my business , move to another area, attempt to take up writing while my wife pursued her art, was the death of my mother aged only 65 of a rare form of cancer of the ear (who knew such things existed?) That realisation that we only have one shot at life so need to be doing something that makes us feel worthwhile with it.

But there were numerous other things too - I wasn't happy being a businessman, my children were growing up and I wasn't seeing any of them, my wife was unhappy with the way our lives were structured, and so on.

Even when we finally decided we had to do something about it, it still took the best part of a year to figure out what exactly it was that we did want, and put things into place to help us achieve that.

But the toughest thing was in fact trying to figure out what exactly it was we wanted. It's easy enough to say we're not happyand we wish it could be different, but in what way different? Unless we are very clear about what we want, we won't move forward.

We have to create a new narrative, a new story that helps us focus on where we want to go.

So you know you need change, but the biggest question is, to what?

Clare said...

It seems like you have taken a heavy burden on your shoulders and I wish I could help.
It always seems to be that those of us who are more thoughtful and considerate of others end up hurting more......sometimes I'm envious of those "shallow people" who sail through life unaware of others and their suffering.....

saraarts said...

In appreciating the value of my own life and really living it to the fullest, one of the things I've had to learn to grant myself is the luxury of sloth. I find that it's all very well to be driven and productive and desirous of making every moment count. Just sitting still and looking at stuff, just letting the pleasure of a breeze or an array of color and movement or the softness of kitty fur against my remaining toes, this stuff counts, too, and is also the point. Or so say I. It's also the stuff I find I miss most when I can't have it.

This may not be relevant to your life at all. It's just something you made me think of. :)

Suzanne said...

This makes so much sense to me. I have relations that sit there and watch life pass them by. Didn't you know, Diabetes, CHF and two heart attacks mean your life is over?

Meanwhile, I watched relatives with terminal cancer trying to live life to the fullest as long as they possibly could.

A friend explained it well when the person I described first really bothered me with her attitude.

She equated life to a poker game. Some people get a lousy hand and fold. Others get the worst hand possible and bluff till then end. It sounds like you're in the latter camp.

You're right-when are we going to find time to do things? We all have to make the time, because time isn't going to come and slap us upside the head and say "hello, you can do this NOW"

suec said...

so, this is really more of a "sit and think about what you wrote" rather than a "jump in with a comment" kinda post. thought you put things well and did not really have anything to add. hope the "connection" with the dancing appears soon. suec

TheAmpuT said...

kathy ~ thank you for giving me the award and the kind words about my blog!

kim ~ ahhh, I could write a book her back at you. But yes, I do understand. When I was in my early 30's, I did all the introspective work to determine that what would really make me happy would to be a chef, but I had no training. After a few years trying to get up the nerve, I quit my high paying corporate job and put myself through culinary school for a few years. I got my dream job right out of school. And nine months later had the car accident. I'm so glad I achieved my goal, but it's put me in a place where I feel like I need to reevaluate all over again. So yes, that IS the biggest question!!

clare ~ my best friend and I always laugh about how much easier life was when we were "unconcious". I'm not sure how I used to just bumble through life, but I did. This takes more effort, but I like it more.

sara ~ VERY relevant.

suzanne ~ thank you for sharing your thoughts. The card playing analogy is interesting, and I'll be thinking on that!

suec ~ thanks for reading and commenting. I hope the dancing comes together, too. But upon further reflection, I have the ability to connect with people that are not connected. If that makes any sense. And in terms of the performance, I need to use that skill to my advantage, so that *I* stay feeling connected to the art.