There seems to be one thing a 1-year-old knows best. If you can hold it, you should eat it. Birthday cake, presents or the box it came in…doesn’t matter. Claim it. Consume it and do it now. Even at 1, life is short.
The other day I was in the process of getting out of the car to go into the grocery when I became aware of a line of moms and dads, all carrying tiny kids as they made their way across the parking lot towards the local shopping centers’ party palace. Clearly a birthday celebration was in the offing as each mini-human being clutched seemed to be clutching a brightly wrapped gift of some sort or size while their care-giver dragged all their related paraphernalia behind the both of them – strollers, diaper bags and oversized totes of every conceivable size. But it wasn’t all the baby junk making me smile. No. What brought the grin was how each 1-year old knew their one real job wasn’t to hold the present. Their one true purpose was to eat the present.
The curious juxtaposition of what seems to be an inalienable Truth self-evident to those who can’t even walk is how it applies to me, right now.
Now half-way through my 2nd course of chemo, I feel everything in ultra-definition. While the drugs battle the tumors, my soft tissues feel the blows of the fight. At times, hope seems a luxury…but in other moments, a mission-critical necessity. Universally sized encouragement comes in the form of a single word or sometimes, not even a word at all…just squeeze of a hand or the feel of a fleece throw instantly yielding warmth when just the moment before I felt cold.
I’m under no illusions. Even now, I check my impulse to whine. I know others are suffering worse than I am in ways, and for reasons, I can’t even fathom. It’s simply my personal realization of how the onslaught that comes with just getting through 15-minutes at a time (much less the week), paying the bills, keeping appointments and controlling pain while managing to not throw up in the process can make it tempting to view all of this as one big bad tsunami and how does anyone cope with the totality of all that?
Answer? You don’t.
No one is asking us to. For me, my assignment is to stay in the moment. The only thing that matters right then is what I’m focused on right there. Set that down and pick up the next. One foot in front of the other.
When I get tired, I lay down. When I get a hankering for some sushi or anything else out of my norm, I’ve learned not to overthink it but eat some, now. If I don’t, I’ll have missed an immediate opportunity to have gained much needed nourishment. And it isn’t just food. When someone pats me on the shoulder, I thank them for that too.
Maybe the real gift I’m trying to share with you this week isn’t anything more than what the little kids already seem to know.
Hold the present in front of you and eat it.
PS: As I’ve written, I am grateful to be freshly reacquainted with my own mortality as I continue to battle against the aliens inside trying to eat me.
A firm disciple in thinking Life is a journey, allow me to give you a present in the form of an orchestral work I’ve loved since I was a teenager.
If there’s anything representative about my Life I can imagine playing at my funeral service, this would be it. And rest easy Pilgrim, I have no intention of hosting said service anytime soon. It’ll be decades before I surrender. Rather, this week’s letter is all about Joy…remembering right now how everything in this moment is about the trip and learning new ways to treasure the moments of ‘present’ found along the way. Think of it as my gift to you.
If you haven’t heard Bedřich Smetana’s “My Fatherland” in a while, or ever, and more particularly, “The Moldau,” the second of the six symphonic poems that form Smetana’s musical homage to what’s known today as the Czech Republic, then pull up an ear and let the river flows carry you…As Smetana wrote of “The Moldau,” which premiered in April 1875, referring to the river by its Czech name, “The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer’s wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night’s moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St. John’s Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).”
PSS: PARKLAND – From my previous post dealing with the tragic school slaughter in Parkland, FL. I’m reprising the links should you be looking to help anyone you may know who is thinking about taking their place in the streets with the Parkland kids and their upcoming march in Washington, D.C. Walk on…
Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.
1 Yr Old Eating Birthday Cake: https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/growth/first-birthday-gift-ideas/; Victory in the Moment: http://dribblestoptops.com/6-tips-to-make-baby-meal-times-less-of-a-stress-for-mums.