Do you ever get the feeling the Universe is hitting you over the head, trying to get your attention with a particular message? That's how I felt this weekend. And the message came right from Tim McGraw: Live Like You Were Dying. l
Well, maybe it didn't come right from Tim himself. But I was clearly reminded of his song at least a dozen times and now it's looping itself through my brain, day and night. First, my husband and I took our grandsons to Waterfire in Providence, Rhode Island where nearly a thousand people gathered in support of breast cancer awareness. It was the last Waterfire of the season — filled with ritual, fire and water in the most beautifully imagined ways — both a fundraiser and tribute to breast cancer awareness. At dusk, 150 survivors walked to the basin of the three-mile river, each carrying a pink torch, lighting the dark, lighting our hearts, evocative music filling the air. Even our 12 and 14 year old grandsons were moved, clapping with the rest of us in both appreciation and acknowledgement. The air was filled with courage. And love. I felt honored to be part of this ceremony on this warm October night; I hugged these three men in my life thought: embrace these moments, they're fleeting at best.
The next day I called a good friend whose husband has been challenged for months by radical cancer treatment. Hearing the tears in her voice, I could only imagine it'd gotten worse. It had. But her tears were for a friend who'd just taken her own life. Such irony as they were doing everything to prolong his. And then another friend called with the news that a family member had gone to the doctor with stomach pains that seemed fairly routine, "nothing much," she assumed. She was hospitalized, opened up, closed up, told the tumor had wrapped itself around too many organs; she has weeks to live. Zero to ten in a matter of hours. Seemingly healthy one minute, dying the next. How can that be?
My friends and I talked about embracing life, now, not waiting until after retirement (we're each pushing beyond the 60/65 mark), not waiting until the financial planner says it's okay to take that trip to Venice or buy that vacation home we've been wanting for so long. What exactly are we waiting for? At some point, we're going to have to journey with loved ones as they die, or we ourselves are going to die.
Don't we want to live first? I don't mean be reckless with our resources, but clearly we can make a few "risky" choices. We can go skydiving and not worry about the consequences. We can live before we die. Thank you, universe, for reminding me to let go of fear, real and imagined, and to just let go! Everyone, have a happy day, no matter where you are on your journey. — ps
Lately, I'm beginning to believe we speak primarily to hear ourselves talk. We find humor in our comments. Or excuse our boldness in the pursuit of truth. "I'm just telling it like it is." OR, "Well that dress IS ugly." OR "He did gain weight. I just pointed it out." Right. And your intention was . . .?
Why do we believe it's okay to blurt out whatever's on our mind, offering our unvarnished — generally unsolicited — truth to friends, family and strangers alike? I'm not suggesting we lie. But there is such a thing as politeness. And keeping our mouths shut. Case in point: my sister, Karen, seven years younger, with the thick golden hair we all wanted. Staying slender seems to come natural. Her smile lights up a room. From the outside, life seemed easy and she seemed graced. But the outside doesn't tell the whole story. Karen went through a real rough patch a few years ago: a divorce, lack of meaningful employment, three kids adjusting to a new lifestyle. Throw in some emotional and physical challenges and she crashed for a bit. Actually for a long bit. Her hair lost its shine, her skin its glow. Under doctor's care, she was given prescriptions to help her over the hump. And that brings me to the point of this story: Karen was picking up one of those prescriptions at CVS where she'd gone for years, the first time she'd personally picked one up in a long time. She gave her name, waited for the small package of pills and the pharmacy assistant looked at her and said, "What happened to you? You used to be so pretty."
What happened to you? A bit personal, don't you think? You used to be so pretty? Kinda' harsh, don't you think? And totally uncalled for.
Want to make somebody crumble? Want to make someone turn inward just at the point they were taking a step outward? Want to tell that cancer patient, or heart attack victim, or emotionally fragile person, "you used to look so good," and expect what? To feel justified for expressing a truth? Stop and breathe twice for every sentence you're about to blurt out. Ask: Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it necessary? Would she want me to saunter up one day and acknowledge how she's become heavier over the years, her backside wider than it once was?
When we offer our truths, let's think first about our intention. Is it to hurt? I suspect not. Is it to exert power, to have the upper hand? Possibly. Or is it because we simply engage our mouth without thinking? We don't even imagine the consequences of our flip remarks.
Time to think about our intentions. Wouldn't it be a far better world if we all intended to affirm others, to help them feel better, not worse. In the end, I guarantee we'd feel better about ourselves. I know I would. — ps
Welcome to Pat's Place
This is the kind of place I'm lucky enough to enjoy every day, a place to think and write and talk with friends. I hope you'll join me here often, posting on my posts, letting me know what you think, what you believe, what makes you laugh or smile or cry. What makes you angry. Let's share thoughts, rant at the world's randomness, explore issues like karma, destiny and past lives, and literary ones, like what we're reading and how in the world writers create conflict in fiction. It's all up for grabs. So, what's on your mind? Post comments.
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