Four years ago this month I wrote the following post. Tonight, I had the gift of spending an entire evening with all the women who live on my daughter’s block. One of the neighbors kindly invited each woman, on both sides of the street, to come for a glass of wine, a little bite, and a chance to get to know each other. Wonderful women all! I had planned to stay an hour and stayed until the end, something I never do. But tonight it was special to get to know all these faces that you wave to.
In the course of doing so, I was reminded once again of the tentative nature of our lives and how things can change in an instant. It was a wake-up call to take nothing for granted. And since I have just now arrived home at 10:30, I thought the wise thing to do tonight would be to find a fitting reprint. And I did. It’s called the Wake-up Call.
“Illness gives us that rarest thing in the world–a second chance, not only at health but at life itself! Louis Bisch, physician, in 1937
When we are diagnosed with a serious illness, along with fear and shock, we start asking dozens of questions.
- What happens now?
- What are my options?
- Will I die?
- How long might I live?
- What does this mean financially?
- What about my children?
- What are the side effects of treatment?
- What does this mean for me and my family?
- How will I tell my Mother?
- Who will I tell?
- Will my life get better or am I now on permanent disability?
- And if the latter, how on earth will I live?
There are so many practical matters that require answers as we step forth into unknown territory. And yet, something else looms large. Many people, including myself, soon discover two additional questions arising to the surface:
What’s Most Important?
What Things Matter?
The answer to these two questions is often the catalyst for transformation. And each of us has to answer them for ourselves.
Illness can provide us with a wake-up call. We can use illness as an opportunity to get down to the business of living. Surviving a plane crash can do it too. ( 5 minute Ted Talk) When we come face to face with our mortality, we can use it to reassess our lives.
I suppose it would be better if we did this without the urgency of illness, but most of the time when things are sailing along, we feel no need to question the status quo.
What is interesting, when we do take up these questions, is how we zero in like a laser beam and quickly separate the wheat from the chaff, as my Grandmother used to say. What is that wheat for you? For most of us, it is relationships.
Old-fashioned notions around love, friendship, kindness, helping, community, telling stories, making memories. And time! Wanting time to live, and to live it with loved ones, doing things that are meaningful. It is rarely about what money can buy and way more about the things that money can’t buy.
We are all creating meaning with every single interaction we have.
There isn’t an encounter, in person or online where we don’t leave evidence of who we are and what we care about. Each time we play peek-a-boo with the child at the next table or smile and say hello to a neighbour or a stranger, or spontaneously buy a bunch of tulips for our friend, we are creating a meaningful moment.
Meaning isn’t a big glossy package
that comes with awards. Those are not to be denigrated; it is a wonderful thing to be recognized for our contributions. Yet, even more, a meaningful life seems to be made up of all the small things that go into being a helpful neighbor or offering a shoulder to lean on, or taking time to call our faraway aunt.
Living a meaningful life is available to everyone. All it takes is the courage to let go of what doesn’t matter and start spending your precious time and attention on what does matter.
We are all meaning-makers. We can all lend a hand, love, and be kind.
Stay in touch, OK. Trudy
Note 1:) I have an interesting blog post to point you to. Publishers Coach. This week’s post was on doodling and before you dismiss it I suggest you read it. The inspiration for her post is Sunni Brown, the author of The Doodle Revolution, who was named one of the “100 most creative people in the world.”
Note 2:) Spring break is almost here. This weekend it starts and the clocks spring ahead. Good news, from my point of view.
Thank you for showing up, week after week. A deep bow to you all. Best wishes, always, Trudy