As some of you know, a couple of my relatives that I'm very close with have recently been diagnosed with cancer. Until now, my family for the most part has been in tact and healthy, therefore, I've not yet dealt with the loss of someone very close to me. I've lived under (to a certain degree) the illusion that each of my family members would stay healthy for years to come. In an ideal world this would be wonderful. However, it seems as though this is not the reality and I've got to find a way to be 'with' it. I've got to find a way to accept this is as a reality. The hard part is I don't want to accept that I may never see my uncle again after this year or that he may not be able to come to my wedding or play with my children. I don't want to accept the reality that my uncle who I love so much may not be at our family gatherings next year or the year after. I feel rage. I feel sadness. And I feel an extreme sense of loss.
Recognizing this is a strong possibility - losing one of my favorite family members, has opened my eyes to the preciousness of life. It goes quickly and each moment is so important to cherish. As I write this, I'm aware that this may sound trite and hokey but for the first time I'm actually experiencing first hand this great sense of losing something I really care about and have NO control over. Although, I suppose this is true about everything - isn't it? I will say it's made me more appreciative of the people in my life and for the special moments I am so privileged to share with them.
This situation has made me keenly aware of what I make a priority in my life..... and what impact this has on where I spend my time and with whom. I often (sometimes unconsciously) make work and money the most important thing in my life. While I know absolutely this is NOT what will sustain me or ultimately give me lasting happiness, it's easy to gravitate toward. It's not that I even need to look at these things - work and money - as being negative. This is really more about the energy that I put toward them. How much space they take up in my head and how sometimes I will gravitate toward working rather than spending time with a loved one.
I don't want to wake up one day and wish I'd spent more time with my family, friends or partner because I worked through the weekend. I don't want to wish that I'd made more calls to my family and friends to tell them I love and care about them, because I was 'too busy'. It is easy... very easy for me to 'be' busy. I can fill up my days, nights, weekends and months with busy activity in a matter of minutes. Yes, I am grateful to have options - for this I do feel fortunate. But at the end of it all - running around like a chicken with my head cut off, having no time to deeply connect - I feel empty, cranky and lonely. I do not believe that is why any of us are here.... to work and make money. Yet, the messages that promote this mind-set are all around us. It is what many of us subscribe to - whether we acknowledge it or not. We move fast, we cram more into our already packed schedules and we beat ourselves up at the end of it all because we didn't get 'enough' done. Crazy ... isn't it?
If you just found out you only had a few more months to live .... what would your priorities be? Would it be to pack up your schedule? Would it be to work more? Would it be to travel the world? I think my priorities would be to spend my time with people I love only doing the activities that I truly love doing. Life is short - very short. And how easy it is to forget this. So, here's another reminder to you.... slow down, take time to tell people who are important to you that you love and appreciate them, focus on the quality of your life rather than the quantity of activities keeping you busy....and, as one of my favorite authors wrote, "Don't sweat the small stuff.... and it's all small stuff."
In case I haven't told you lately, YOU rock!