The clock ticks but does it really say anything? Time passes and we yearn for more time. When facing a life-altering health crisis time may be counting down till medication starts working. It is often what passes in waiting rooms. We believe or want to believe that time is endless. I was talking to my father last week about time, really about age, after my uncle’s death at the age of 61. My father asked me if I ever thought about the fact that the time I have left to live is probably less than what I’ve already lived (I’m about to turn 47).
It’s clear that time means a lot to those who have little left. You can go from being here to not being here in a very short period of time. There is an element of surprise when time doesn’t play by the rules we want to set. I can tell you from my work with thousands of clients over the past twenty-years that time waits for no one. It’s as if “time” has it’s own rule book but doesn’t tell anyone the rules.
Stop watching the clock, the calendar, the moon if that’s how you mark the passing of time. Begin living in the moment and you won’t have to worry about what’s passing you. It’s like riding the wave in surfing, you get caught up in the excitement, the drama, the risk, the accomplishment and the fact that maybe thirty seconds passed means nothing… it’s all about how much you lived in that time.
When we’re newly diagnosed we have lots of decisions to make, often in a short period of time. It’s not often that we take the time to focus on our identity as a person with a health challenge when more pressing matters are present. I’ve started wondering…in order to experience wellness, do we have to let go of who we were and embrace who we will become.
Let me just say that when I say “who we will become” I’m not focusing on the illness itself. I’m really thinking about the qualities, characteristics, behaviors, experiences that we will have as a result of our illness. I’ve worked with individuals for many years, following my own health challenge, and people ask would we change anything? The obvious answer is YES…we could choose not to be ill. Then I started thinking and of course the ideal is to be healthy with no restrictions and certainly no medical treatment walking by our side. I also began to think about what have I become since my diagnosis.
On a personal note, my auto-immune diagnosis came late in my adolescence. I have grown up with my illness and maybe that’s different than those being diagnosed as adults. What I know is that I’ve become a more inquisitive person. I engage in more conversations about things that matter to me and I certainly am particular about those I choose to spend time with on a regular basis.
What is developing in you? Are you becoming more assertive? Have you realigned your priorities so that what you say and how you act are congruent? I think of Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying” and it rings a strong chord. Who will we become as a result of a diagnosis or the diagnosis of someone who is near an dear to our hearts.
This may seem like the furthest thing from the minds of those who are newly diagnosed. I can assure you that the questions had begun long before your diagnosis. We watch those around us get sick, some overcome the challenge and others die, but the questions begin and we can’t stop them. When we’re diagnosed it goes from a passing thought to, for some, an obsession. Questions are good. The Ancient Greeks lived in the question and they felt that’s how you achieved the “Good Life”. Isn’t that something we all want?
Don’t be afraid of who you’ll become because you won’t ever lose the humor, compassion, love and experiences you had pre-diagnosis. This in a bizarre way just adds to our repertoire. I’d love to know who you’re becoming…please share it with us!