Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Life's a Journey

Clay and I dressed up and ready to go see "Journey" in concert. 

Life is a journey to be appreciated. Seriously. What if you woke up one day and found out that you only had six months to live? Would you party like a rock star? Finish that book... Or maybe you'd climb Mount Everest? Anyone who's faced dying will tell you, it changes how you think. Cancer survivors–AIDS survivors–anyone who has faced, and overcome, some great challenge or illness that threatened to upend their world has experienced it–a dramatic shift in the way they see themselves and the people around them. These survivors of adversity are often gifted with an extraordinary insight into their own lives and personal motivations. Thoughts become uncluttered. The mundane disappears and the things that are truly important become crystal clear. There is the "you" you were before and then there is the "you" you are after, which leaves you to question, "Who am I really and what really matters to me now?" Day to day life takes on new meaning and, if you're lucky, love and heart-felt purpose become paramount. Something else–when you face your foe, an extraordinary thing happens–the fear dissipates. It's not a bad way to live–fearless and at peace with the world around you. 
Being diagnosed thirteen years ago with HIV made me look at everything and everyone differently. It made me appreciate humankind ten-fold. Especially anyone brave enough to love me, or want to be my friend, regardless of my disease. So much was happening in those first years after my children and I were diagnosed. There were remarkable advents in medicine and yet people were still dying every single day. I would get to know someone, and then a month later, find out that they'd passed. To cope, I learned to live in the moment. It was too frightening to think ahead, so I didn't. Now, I'm thankful to say that I have been given the green light to think ahead. This is new to me. To dream about not only my children's future but also my own. What a gift that is! Still, I don't want to lose sight of the clarity that one gains from looking at life as expendable. This is something I do whenever I feel lost or my goals become clouded. This simple exercise enables me to clearly see what's really important and put all things in perspective. I encourage you to try this too. You only need three things: A pen, paper, and your imagination. 
Imagine that you only have six-months left to live. Let the thought really sink in. Now, ask yourself these questions and answer them as truthfully as you can. If I only had six months left to live...
What would I like to do that I've never done before?
Who would I wish I'd said "I love you," to?
Who would I wish I'd not wasted my time with?
Who would I want to spend that time with?
What would I stop doing?
What would I start doing?
What would I most want to accomplish before I died?
Now the good news is that you have a LIFETIME to do these things... Embrace the journey and live each moment to the fullest. 

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Andrea said...

Thank you!

Signe said...

I have thought about what I would do if I thought I only had a few months to live. I would take more time to let my kids know what I hope for them, but really just being with my family is all I want. Mt Everest will just have to be left unclimbed by me.

Great post, and I am glad you are still with us, and still writing.

Suzan said...

Thank you, Signe! And it sounds like you already know what's important. That's is a beautiful thing!