Friday, February 8, 2008

Live Like There's No Tomorrow

I had yet another midwife appointment, this morning. Not very eventful except that they have a midwifery student there today and I consented to let her do the exam (as opposed to the "real" midwife). The student was probably about my Mom's age and wearing a CTR ring. I saw the flash of the shield on the ring as she stooped to squish my abdomen around and asked if it was, indeed a CTR ring. She confirmed that it was and seemed pleased that I knew anything about such things. We didn't get into any deep religious discussion or anything - it was just kind of amusing (in a good way).

After all - I don't look LDS (no garments or flower prints - heck, I don't even wear a wedding ring). So I guess she wouldn't expect much "insider" knowledge, based on my appearance. And due to the environment (a female empowering midwifery practice with Goddess symbolism all over the place), I didn't expect a middle-aged LDS woman to be providing care (especially not as a student).

She did an excellent job; very thorough, good questions, very good listener, extremely competent vibe... I think she'll be a great midwife.

I just love it when people don't quite fit into the neat identity pigeonholes.

My Midwestern friend finally had a chance to update us, yesterday. Her son is still alive. He doesn't really talk much, anymore, and they had to find him a wheelchair because his balance center is too "off" for him to be able to walk. He isn't eating much, and the narcotic pain relievers aren't making as big a difference in his comfort as they used to. The poor little guy is in near-constant pain. All these details just blow my mind.

I can not imagine having to watch my child go through such pain and deterioration. Even trying to imagine... my brain can only follow the sympathy/empathy path so far and then it just shuts down. It hurts too much.

When I was fourteen and my Mom had cancer, I remember wishing that I could take it from her. I wished that somehow we could swap - I would have it so she'd be OK. I don't know if all teens are as ego-centric and self-absorbed as I was. It just didn't occur to me that such a trade probably would have made everything worse for her, not better. Of course, until you have your own children, you have no idea how different and more powerful that love is from anything else in human experience.

I'm so thankful for my children and for the time I have with them.

I've been seeing a lot, lately, about how people should live every day as if it's their last. I have to say that, despite the general timbre of this post, I disagree.

The idea of living like there's no tomorrow imparts a desperation and over-sentimentality that (in my opinion) diminishes experience, rather than enhances it. I absolutely think we can all benefit by living mindfully, being aware of ourselves and the world around us and cherishing life as it happens, rather than constantly rushing from Point A to B and Activity X to Y... assuming that we'll do what we really want to be doing "later" - when we're done with our never-ending lists of Things To Do.

But clinging to transitory experiences like they're our last is not the antidote to this popular way of Being. Living each day as if it's your last is anxiety-producing and sorrowful. It's still a way of moving through an out-of-control world that's acting on you - rather than meaningfully navigating conscious choices and savoring the results.

Yesterday I received the most recent edition of Yoga Journal, and one small article really caught my attention.

Just about everyone has probably read about how to conduct an audit of their personal finances and set a budget, so that a person can take responsibility for their financial life and use their resources more meaningfully. As far as I know, this is something that just about anyone would consider a good idea.

The article recommends doing the same form of audit on our use of time.


It totally makes sense. After all, time is the most precious resource we have - and one that can be painfully finite.

So my project for this weekend is to audit the way I use my time. I don't think I've been doing an effective job of allocating my time. I fritter away far too much of my time on things I don't care all that much about - TV, computer games, acting polite while letting other people bleed time away from things that matter...

It's been years since I opened up my oil paints. Half-written (or - worse - pages upon pages of rough outlines and research) novels litter random binders in dusty boxes of the garage. I don't get enough exercise. I read Yoga Journal but haven't dusted off my mat in months. I haven't been to the library in weeks. Ridiculous.

And if I'm not doing anything to take care of myself, what am I really giving to my kids? What am I teaching them?

This should be an interesting weekend.


  1. You have a knack for posting exactly what I mulling over.

  2. I would argue that wasting time is sometimes a good use of time... be it for personal introspection or just allowing the mind to rest. There are days when I've beaten myself for not "doing" anything... but then I realize that quite a lot, actually, has been done.