Heart and Soul

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Gonna' Live 'Til I Die

I am dying.

But then, that’s the ultimate irony of life, isn’t it.

From the moment we are born ….every morning we rise to begin again…everything we do…it all brings us that much closer to our final breath.

Yet for the most part, we humans put on imaginary blinders and pretend that life is eternal. We live in a self-delusional cocoon where death is something that only happens to others. And in adopting that mindset, we not only lose sight of our mortal reality, we tend to waste precious time in activities and actions that really don’t matter.

I was starkly reminded of that life and death reality during a post holiday dinner with a friend of mine. She is a wonderful person who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This woman is a spirited and positive-thinking individual who more than once has served as my councilor and confidant in times of need. Yet on this particular night the tables were turned. This time, I was the one listening as she described the severity of the disease that has invaded her body and against which she is now waging a battle for her life.

As my friend detailed the various treatments she is undergoing and the physical and mental side effects she is enduring, I found it impossible to equate her words with her appearance. Outwardly she looks the same as always---attractive and healthy, with a smile that warms the heart. Yet, my friend has changed dramatically in the life she now lives since receiving her cancer diagnosis.

She has taken a leave of absence from work and now spends time each day painting and quilting, two of her favorite hobbies. Her husband, a man usually busily engaged in his own activities, has reorganized his schedule and become a marvelous caretaker and a compassionate ally in her healing battle. And her friends, myself included, are making an extra effort to call and spend more time together.

And so it is I wonder, why does it take something like a brutal medical diagnosis with an immediate life-threatening dimension to force us to treasure life and those in it?

Why do we insist on wearing those blinders that encourage us to believe that the life we cherish and those we love will endure forever and therefore can be set aside or put on hold?

Why do we continually fool ourselves into believing that offering a kind word, giving a special hug, reading a book, playing a game, taking a walk, sharing a meal, or simply enjoying time with family and friends is a luxury allowed only after fulfilling work and professional responsibilities?

Why don’t we get it, that from the moment we are born, we begin dying---and that we need to spend time enjoying who and what we’ve got, while we can?

Like I said, I am dying. Matter of fact, we’re all dying.

But more important then concentrating on that inescapable and depressing fact, we need to focus on the joyous option that we are also given from the moment we are born…and that is to live fully, each and everyday, until we die.
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