A few days ago I ran across a quote that stopped me in my tracks. The quote, by Joseph Campbell, states “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
I had read or heard the quote before. It wasn’t new. As a writer and a previous speechwriter, I have a multitude of reference and quote books and love to sit and get lost in the inspirational thoughts. I found that when writing using a quote or two was a good way to help people relate to a point especially when writing a speech for another person. As you can see, I don’t often stray from that view-point in any of my writing.
“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are” is another quote from Joseph Campbell, a favorite of mine who was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer who lived until 1987. Like many artists, his work seemed to come to life following his death. Another quote, “If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.”
The more I thought about the quotes, the more I felt like a hypocrite. I was looking at three quotes telling me to celebrate having an unplanned life and I had been whining about the fact that my life had veered off course. Instead of celebrating an unplanned life — I was mocking its very existence. Maybe that is why I had titled my blog address as http://www.shakinguplife.com. Did I know deep down that my unplanned life was going to be something that I appreciated? Had things changed in my life — from something negative to a positive?
I decided that I needed to stop worrying about what is planned or unplanned. I want my life to be about laughing and living, in good and bad times and getting through whatever comes my way and, being able to look back and smile. Not an easy thing to do when there are people like Dr. Liar who have crossed your path. However, I must admit, it’s getting easier and it took one additional hospital experience to teach me a new, valuable, selfless lesson. A lesson in that personality trait that I wrestle with every day…patience.
In addition, during this past week, I have thought a lot about how fragile life is. As quickly as Dr. Liar came into my life and took things away from me, he has now been overshadowed by the kindness of a new doctor who is giving me things I never could expect. Following my medical problem with Atrial fib and flutter, I already had an elective procedure scheduled for mid-August. Along with an injured spinal cord, I have the world’s worst sinuses. I have known for years that I needed surgery, but most doctors were hesitant to operate on a person with my medical history. However, Dr. H. agreed and last Monday we went to the hospital for pre-operative medical appointments, testing and surgery. At my appointment with Dr. H. I reminded him that the last time I had surgery things didn’t go so well. He asked if I would like for us to pray prior to the surgery. I was impressed and said yes immediately!
We arrived for surgery at 5:30 a.m. staying in the hospital’s guest services apartments the night before. What an unstressed way to begin a day — no long drive and already in the hospital just a few floors from the surgical area. I was already checked in so it was just a matter of the pre-operative procedures (I even wore my pajamas and slippers). After I changed into the newest hospital pink paper attire, Dr. H.’s young resident popped his head in and asked how I was doing. While I was having my own private pity-party since I was remembering the last time I was preparing for surgery, I know that he couldn’t anticipate what he was walking into. All I could think of was the years of painful recovering, the lies and poor treatment by Dr. Liar and the battle that I had been fighting since 2005. I wish I had a watch with a second-hand so I could have timed how quickly he made his escape. I don’t think that he will soon forget me and my unusual pre-op behavior. I won’t forget how he made me laugh.
Dr. H. arrived in the pre-op area and we discussed the surgery. We talked about my neck position during surgery and he promised that once my head and neck was in a comfortable position that it would not be moved, which was a huge concern for me. We also talked about the extra monitoring of my heart. He then asked if we could pray. We weren’t sure who was going to take the lead, but he asked if we would like him to say the prayer. What occurred next was the best example of the character of a man who cares more about others than himself. While one would expect that he would ask God to lead him through a successful surgery and to guide his hands — he instead asked God to continue to heal my injuries as well as my heart following the ordeal I had been through. He wasn’t worried about his ability to make me better — he was more worried about my emotional state and the poor medical treatment I had previously received. He was asking God to continue to heal me spiritually as well as medically. When the four of us were done holding hands (Dr. H, my husband, the nurse and me) and finished the prayer, I felt an immediate sense of relief and I knew that I was in good-God hands. In fact, I am struggling with some of the medication that I must take for a few weeks, but my pain level has been low and I am now able to breath…something that hasn’t been easy to do for about 10 years. Do I believe in the power of prayer — you bet! I lived it. Do I believe that Dr. H. was sent to me for a reason. Yes, I do!
Sadly, the same day I had my surgery, I learned a friend and former co-worker lost her battle with cancer. She lived through 9/11 in NYC and decided to move to a quieter location following that horrible day and losing friends and co-workers. Always a true professional, J.T. worked long hours and we often wondered why we both suffered from migraines. We often compared remedies and got to be friends along the way. Years later, following my life altering injury, J.T. and I had many talks regarding how fragile life is and how quickly things can change. Before long she contacted me and shared her sad medical news. I will never forget that conversation since she wanted to be strong; however, her life was now out of control and the things she loved were bit-by-bit being taken away — something that she knew I could related to. We kept in touch for as long as she could; however, in J.T.’s true style she slipped away quietly and privately with only those she was closest to by her side. I know that she is no longer in pain, not having to fight an internal battle and she is now surrounded by carefree days. I know that heaven is now a happier and more joyous place because she is there.
I fortunately have been sheltered from too much death during my lifetime. I would say that I have been very blessed. Those I have lost have been grandparents, and while it’s not easy to lose them, it’s hard to see them suffer as they grow older with medical problems such as heart problems, Alzheimer’s, etc. Since moving to Virginia, two uncles have passed away and it is difficult to see my aunts and cousins experience such sadness. How do you help ease their pain? How do you put one foot in front of the other and go about your daily life? Aren’t these some of the same questions I had been asking myself just a few months ago about my very own life?
I must admit that I tend to think about death more since I have a heart problem. I am proud to be a Christian and have asked God for eternal life; however, how do we know? Will my sweet grandmother come and guide me toward the light when it’s my time? What about those who are left behind? Always the mother hen how will I ease their sorrow? How can there be people like Dr. Liar who are more like the devil and Dr. H. who clearly demonstrates in his daily life that he is a Christian? Did I have to go through the trial and tribulations of Dr. Liar to learn that there are people who really do care and understand what selfless devotion is? Do we all need to go through the bad to appreciate the good? Is it because of sadness that we know pure joy? Without one, would we not know the other? Is the path God has created one filled with both good and bad and does it all balance out?
Being a Christian gives me the hope that I do have something to look forward to when I die. I would rather live my life knowing and earning eternal life than to live it for nothing at all or for no significant reason. Living a life with God makes me comfortable and knowing that he is guiding and directing the journey makes it more rewarding. I can’t imagine having to go it alone.
Since hearing of my friend’s death I have really noticed all the silliness that is occurring in the world. I wish someone would explain who the heck Kim Kardashian is and why I should care about her lavish wedding? And our president…he is entitled to a vacation, but why do we need to know the details? I hope he takes his vacation, comes back rested and solves important things like creating jobs and slowing down spending. And the backstabbing taking place for the open political positions…I believe that I may go insane if we are force-fed this stuff until the end of next year.
It’s my belief that we all just need to get along and understand that each of us are fighting some type of battle. We need to concentrate on what is truly important and, to me, that’s not a wedding of a former sex tape participant turned reality television star (and I use that word loosely). There must be those interested in knowing more about this type of information since the media seems to focus on it more and more each day. To me, I would rather hear more about how we can make the world better, make people accountable or focus on sharing good news. Won’t the media give us what we want if we demand it? Or are there people out there who really care about Kim Kardashian’s wedding? How many people know that her father was a defense team member for OJ Simpson? Or, is it simply because her family is rich?
And lastly, since writing this blog I have heard from a lot of you asking me to write a book about my medical experiences. I would love nothing more to expand on the blog and do just that. However, it seems the only book deals are being made by people such as Bristol Palin, Sarah Duchess of York, Regis Philbin or other people who want or need to air their dirty laundry. Out of the 100+ queries I sent out asking if there was any interest — I received only one no thank you — nothing more. Therefore, I thank you all who are sticking with me via the blog and allowing me to continue to share my story…both the good and bad.
©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com 2011.