Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Stop Contemplating Your Navel

When I was the Program Director for the Wellness Community San Francisco-East Bay I went through training on The Wellness Community’s philosophy.  One of the things which I knew from doing this work for ten plus years at the time but they put in words was conveying to clients my ability to hold the pain.  I guess it’s an energy I put forth and it has served me well in my ability to help those facing a chronic or life-threatening illness.  In addition, it has served as a beacon to others that if they have a sad story to tell, I’m the guy with whom they can share it!

I’ve got two examples and then I’ll get to my point about the navel.  Yesterday at the vet I asked the receptionist about her Mother’s Day and she responded “it was fair”.  I asked her how that could be and she told me that her 14-year-old nephew died from a head injury incurred by a bicycle accident.  While on vacation two weeks ago my mother’s friend (who was on the trip with us) received an e-mail that a close friend who had been diagnosed with cancer a while back had relapsed and was most likely going to die in the coming week.  She had retired in the past few months after teaching for 30 years.  After a couple of months of retirement she was diagnosed with cancer.

Where is all this going?  It’s saying that none of us are given a guarantee that we would live until we’re 100 and yet many, even those of you diagnosed with a chronic or life=-threatening illness live life-like you have all the time in the world.  This isn’t about being alarmist; it’s about being a realist. 

How are you making the most of each day?  How are you nurturing your relationships?  What on your bucket list are you able to cross off?  I had breakfast with a friend who late last year spent a few weeks in the hospital on the brink of death.  She just turned 42 and for her birth she went skydiving.  I asked why she would take such a risk and she replied, “I’ve already been at death’s door, what more could I possibly be afraid of?” 

She has a zest for life that came after a terrible experience.  My mother’s friend and her husband have made a personal commitment to enjoy their life more by spending more time with friends and traveling.  They made plans for their next trip while we were still on the current vacation. 

Can you really afford to contemplate your navel on a physical, emotional, or spiritual level?  The only thing you’ll benefit from contemplating your navel is a lint-free navel.  I’m not recommending you climb Everest, but we each have our own Everest that we can scale.  We all have those challenges and dreams that will fulfill us beyond our hearts content. 

Stop waiting for the miracle because you’re passing up the greatest miracle of all…you’re still alive, so live!


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s