I have a confession to make.
I am wasting time. These five words rattle in my head like coins in a pocket. I hear the clang, but fail to remedy my inaction. Like all conflicts, I search for a source. Maybe it is the arrival of March that pushes buried emotions to the top. Spring is already in the air in the desert – warmer temperatures hit the pavement, the cacti bloom with yellow and pink flower buds and the hum of new beginnings whisper in the background. Yet, this palpable happiness is splattered with the sorrow of intersecting with the anniversary of my father’s passing later this month. Every year, during March, the tightrope seems to thin even more. This year I don’t see a rope, but just a frayed string dangling with little hope of returning to its original tautness.
But like everything, this feeling and emotion is temporary. I realize the abundance of goodness. It comes from expected places like my daughter, who this week, asked several questions that highlighted her innocence – “Momma, do bugs look at us and think that we are giants? or how does a song manage to jump on to a CD? Her curiosity sparks more questions than answers. To witness and listen to her inquiries, cements my belief in beginnings. I contrast her single digit age with my over forty self. Her sprint tires me at times, but it also fills me up in a way I do not experience in other places in my life. I focus on this goodness and then again, other unexpected places of joy pops up. A recent binge on House of Cards, the happiness in reading words from a novel I adore and those daily phone calls from my mom, where we don’t say much, but that doesn’t really matter. It is the comfort of routine that holds promise.
I still question, despite this goodness. “What is the point?” raises its hand again and it forces contemplation of small and large truths, reconciling happiness and sorrow, losses and triumphs. It is so hard sometimes. Then again, is it? This past week, in my haze, I read the words of Paul Kalanithi, a distinguished nonsmoking neurosurgeon who at 36 is facing the devastating prognosis of metastatic lung cancer. I read two pieces, Before I Go and How Long Have I Got Left?, and both these pieces offered a place for my physical and metaphorical change to land. He talks about his diagnosis with poignancy:
The path forward would seem obvious, if only I knew how many months or years I had left. Tell me three months, I’d just spend time with family. Tell me one year, I’d have a plan (write that book). Give me 10 years, I’d get back to treating diseases. The pedestrian truth that you live one day at a time didn’t help: What was I supposed to do with that day? My oncologist would say only: “I can’t tell you a time. You’ve got to find what matters most to you.”
Reading this particular passage, an epiphany unraveled in my mind. Yes, I thought. You have to do what matters to you the most.
And I guess that is the point. For all of us.
Image: Blue Skies, Smiling At Me by Eric via Flickr.