I’m just going to be real with you. The C word is scary. Even with a lower-case c and a maybe, it forces a pause. It puts things in perspective. We spend so much time fretting about the future that we can forget it is not guaranteed.
I don’t mean for this to be grim or morbid. In fact, there is a long philosophical, cultural and spiritual history of using the knowledge of impending death (at all times, as it’s a fate that we all ultimately share) for inspiration and motivation to live better and appreciate each moment. Among other things, a somber diagnosis really brings the G word into focus.
These days, I wake up filled with gratitude. Feeling the sheets, cozy on my toes, as I do my morning meditation. Appreciating the softness and warmth all around me. As I rise and my feet gingerly hit the floor, I give thanks to greet another day. The scent of coffee that guides me to the kitchen reminds me of simple pleasures. Cradling my steaming mug, I wholeheartedly indulge in sinking back into bed to read the news and prepare for the day. I rejoice in my body that is healthy and full of energy as I prepare for a sunrise walk. And in the nature that surrounds me even here.
Then there’s my son. My trail angel. The miracle I thought might never be. It’s so easy to miss the magic of each moment unfold, rushing to the next to do. Now, I savor spaciousness in the pause. In the present. Looking him in his eyes when he tells me his dreams and his passions. Laughing with my whole body as we play games of make believe. Reading in bed together and melting as he uses my shoulder as a pillow, koala-ing me as he drifts off to sleep. Delighting in his many masterpieces, the product of a spark followed by intense focus, fully believing in his art. Listening intently to his calling. Hearing the kind, mindful maturity when he shares insights that seem sprung from the wisdom of lifetimes. Even the heartbreak when I see the big feelings overwhelm him and the solace that comes when we can work together to move through them. Seeing how he changes every day, almost imperceptibly and also so tremendously so…
My partner too. Dare I admit that the adulting can wear us down? That there have been days when we seem so far removed from those young, vibrant people who first fell in love? But, it turns out, they’re still there! We rediscovered them on the road to the many specialist visits that have populated the last several months. I know it’s strange to say but those days were bizarrely pleasant. Taking off work, unplugging and driving up the freeway, talking one on one like we haven’t done in so long. Using our time in the city to take pleasure in it. And one another. Rooftop breakfast looking out to the Hollywood sign. Charming lunch in a poolside garden in Pasadena. Quaint café on the sidewalk of Beverly Hills. And that spirit remains, charming all that we do. Hanging holiday lights, staying in to enjoy home cooking, supporting one another’s passions.
Time with my family and friends is no longer taken for granted, as I slow down to enjoy long phone calls and video chats over lands far and wide. The light that spreads when we embrace being together. The feeling of being surrounded by the ones who have known you forever and to your core. As well as the magic of reveling in the future you and the ones who see her there too.
Frenzied demands at work can leave little room for appreciation. That is, without intention. Lately, it’s been easy to just be there. Time with my team feels like swimming in a rainbow. Everyone is so different and full of so much wonder, unique talents and callings inspiring me every day. I see them growing. Innovating. Their passion coming to life. Thinking and rethinking. Getting braver. Bolder. Open to the universe of possibilities. And, the joy in serving them – as a coach, mentor, empowerer and friend – it fills me up.
I am also seeing how much time gets wasted. As someone who is ever focused on time management (and ever lamenting the universal deficit), it’s been astonishing to see how many precious minutes are squandered. That obligatory event I thought I should agree to attend. That third episode of that show I’m not enjoying anyway. The churn of rumination, stealing afternoons and hours of rest at 2 a.m. Once you see it, you are free to fill those stretches with goodness as you define it. Self-care you’ve never had time for. The writing your soul longs to do. Unhuried hikes, free to explore the paths as they emerge. The memories you yearn to make.
In this space, life’s frustrations shrink. Fade into the background. Where they should be. For this life is a gift. All of its many facets. Setbacks, disappointments and scary diagnoses too. They are all gifts of their own. Opportunities to look again. To learn. To appreciate. Finding joy in each moment. Simmering in each second. Ever full of the G word.