I have gotten a few questions from friends who’ve seen my blog. They want to know if I am okay. They want to understand if I am sick and if that’s why I am counting my days. The title my10000days was intended as a reminder, not a countdown clock. I am okay, actually I am more than okay, but, I am also a work in progress. I am looking for balance between sustainability and enjoyability. As a couple and a family, we are comfortable with our lives but the pace of it all has accelerated and is teetering on the edge of becoming too much. We would like to keep most of it, be really present in it and therefore enjoy it all more. I would like to slow down the right bits to wring the most out of them and then also get as much as I can out of the things I don’t love to do but can learn from.
I have read many beautiful blogs and books written by people after they’ve received a crushing diagnosis – Until I Say Goodbye, The Last Lecture, www.myhusbandstumor.com, all of them share beautiful examples of how we should behave all the time. Can we do this? Are we capable of finding as much joy as possible in life without the pressure of a deadline? We must be, but I think you know what I mean. Why is it that so many beautiful thoughts are shared in the form of books and blogs and letters by people we might never know unless they found out they were fighting a terminal diagnosis. I feel like their voices were worth our attention before their diagnosis. Shouldn’t we be able to believe in ourselves and appreciate each other without someone handing us a stop watch with the timer clicked? Or is it that we can only truly allow ourselves to be vulnerable and let our guard all the way down when we have nothing to lose?
Susan Spencer Wendell wrote Until I Say Goodbye, My Year of Living with Joy. In reading it, I heard her lesson to all of us was that we needed to find the joy wherever and whenever we can. Be realistic, accept what you know to be true but also make room for joy, plan for it and follow-through on it, maybe most importantly be steadfast in your pursuit of it.
This week Oliver Sacks wrote a piece for the New York Times reflecting on his terminal cancer diagnosis. He’s given us Awakenings and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and no doubt there are thousands of students at NYU and beyond tha
t he has reached with his work. In the article he shares that “Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life. On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight. I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
I am hopeful that in sharing my progress toward the original goals of my10000days that I will better learn how to appreciate what I have, be more present in it and balance it all better to have what Mr. Sacks refers to as a “clear focus and perspective.” It helps to have this reminder that I need to take the time to play more, that doing something every day matters more than what I do once in a while. I don’t want to forget and have time go by and then realize that it’s too late. Since I am truly OK but also a work in progress – I am going to use this tool to help me remember. Everyone’s doing the best they can everyday – I just want to make sure I am too, without the pressure of a deadline.