A man has a medical scare that lands him in the hospital for several days. He pulls through, and he is discharged. He is sent home with some dietary restrictions and a timetable for resuming different daily activities such as driving, exercising, and lifting heavy objects. He has received that most frightening wake up call, and he realizes that he needs to make changes.
He now understands that he must practice moderation. He knows that the previous years’ excesses have brought him to this place. He is willing to cut back on the unhealthy foods and increase his fitness level.
His loved ones, with all of the best intentions, prefer elimination to moderation. No, you cannot drink that. No, you cannot eat that. No, you cannot do that. No, no, no! Be careful with this. Watch out for that. Careful, careful, careful! They mean well, and they want him to stick around for a long time to come.
He lives, yet his life has changed. It is now full of cannots and cautions. He begins to wonder if this is what he survived for. Is this why he was given another chance? What is the point of a life if not to live it? Is he living, or is he merely existing?
I look at this man, and I am sad for him. I want him to be healthy, but one must be happy in order to be truly healthy. He needs to change his diet and exercise habits to be sure, but he should not be deprived of the occasional treat. He should not be forced to spend his days strapped into an invisible safety harness. There has to be an acceptable balance that allows him to continue to live his life, not just to survive.
A young woman is diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. She undergoes what is known as the “Mother of All Surgeries” (MOAS), and she endures a slow, painful recovery that lasts for more than a year. She winds up minus a few body parts and with permanent damage to others. Things are touch and go for a long time. There are numerous repeat admissions to hospitals, tests after tests, and treatments upon treatments.
Today, she lives. And when I tell you that she lives, I mean she lives. She embraces life. She devours it. She throws herself into it with beautiful abandon. She appreciates every extra minute that grace has bestowed upon her.
She has limits and restrictions, too. She has days when her body delivers a less-than-kind reminder of those limitations. On those days she knows that she must retreat for a time, only so that she may charge right back into life and living.
She has come to understand the necessity of balance, the give and take that allows her to continue finding joy in many of her dayst Har friends and family understand and readily accept that there will be some missed events and some rescheduled plans, thankful that there will be future days spent together. Each December we celebrate her birthday, and each June we acknowledge the anniversary of the MOAS and the rebirth of the woman who chooses to live.
I watch her, and I smile. She teaches me how to recover, how to persevere, and how to be stronger than a “weakened” body should allow. I look to her, and I know that the point of a life is indeed to live it.
This post is dedicated to my friend Liz, whose beautiful and passionate spirit has taught me a thing or two about how to live a life. Cheers! Karen
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