It was one of those days that just make you feel good about life. Actually, it was really a lovely string of events combined with some well timed comments from friends old and new. Those kinds of moments are rare, and their wonder was not lost on me. I lived in the moment, and my heart smiled. I told my son about it and he said “I’m jealous. You are living the dream”. He was being sincere, but his words caught me off guard. Living the dream? I’m learning to life with life altering conditions, Trying to figure out how to make a living in my new body, living far away from help and civilization with no hope of my house selling anytime soon, that is the dream???
As I stepped back and thought about it, I realized he was actually right in a weird kind of way. Life is funny that way. You see things differently when you step back and change your perspective.
I saw Seussical at my beloved theatre with my mom a couple weeks ago. It was magical, musically delightful, and the kind of fanciful fun that suits me perfectly. I went home singing and humming memorable refrains. Our seats were close to the stage, perfect for catching all the details and for mom to hear. When I went back to usher for the same show a week later, I wasn’t planning on seeing it again since it had been a long day and I was tired. As it worked out, they needed me to stay, so I did. I ended up watching it from the back with a friend. A curious thing happened. The show reinvented itself for me. Sitting in the back I was able to see the whole stage in one glance. There were new details to notice, new things to appreciate. The show was still magical and wonderful, but I saw things I missed before. Changing perspective gave me new insight.
I was reminded of that yet again on my lovely Saturday. While waiting for my mom to be ready to go in for our lunch with friends, I saw a friend from the theatre going by on his bike. Still riding the emotional wave from seeing West Side Story, I made a point of interrupting his trip to thank him again for the musical magic he helped create. The exchange was simple, but ended up reaching me on a deeper level. He asked how I was doing. Trying to be humorous I said “I’m doing well, but life can suck sometimes.” I immediately didn’t like the way that sounded, so I corrected it to “no, AGING can suck sometimes... But I’m pretty feisty. I intend to give aging a run for its money” He laughed and replied, "Yes, you are. My money isn’t on aging. I think you’ll win that round” or something to that effect. It made me laugh.
A similar conversation occurred on my return to the theatre to get my car after our fabulous meal. As my mom dropped me off, other company members were returning for the evening show. I made a joke about them narrowly escaping my mom’s driving, when one said, “we were just talking about you”. It turned out to be an impromptu meeting of the mutual admiration society. We had spoken previously about illness and overcoming, one of the two new friends having overcome his own large hurdles. The short exchange left me again feeling warm and encouraged.
As I reflected on this heartwarming day with a great show, good food, friends and conversation on my drive home I marveled that my illness had been a big part of much of it. The illness? How is that possible? Digging deeper, I realized it was not that actual illness that was at the heart of it, but my feisty spirit. At the risk of veering off into a therapy session, let’s just say that I spent much of my youth answering for my feisty spirit. Too loud, too talkative, too much energy, too much imagination, and not enough quiet and serious. I was the Lucy in a world that wished me to be a lot more Sally or Linus. It has long been a struggle to find the delicate balance between being the grown up reserved person I was expected to be and the real me that lives with exclamation points. Now, all these many years later, my exclamations points had come full circle. They had finally come into a place of honor and respect.
It almost seemed too much to take in. Somehow, in the process of getting sick, I can finally be my truest self and have it be ok. My refusal to lay dormant keeps me moving forward when days are long and my body doesn’t cooperate. It keeps me pushing forward when the options are few, but the need is great. I’ve not only been able to be a part of the theatre that holds such a special place in my heart, but I’ve made new friends that have made a big and positive impact on me. Despite my illness, life has presented some wonderful and amazing opportunities for me.
The saying goes that “life is what happens while you are making other plans”. Somehow, in the process of getting sick with a life altering conditions, I’ve found great joys and realized dreams along the way. I’ve discovered that the essence of who I am, my feisty and enthusiastic spirit, not only serves me well, but is now actually appreciated by those around me. How crazy is it that in being sick, I can be my truest self. Life certainly has a sense of humor…
The fact that the only obvious path available for me to follow right now is one I’ve always longed to take just seems to be part of the crazy mystery of it all. I’m writing, a lifelong passion. I’m committed to making my discovery center work, not only because it has been a labor of love and dream for me, but I honestly don’t know what else I can do. Things that were once distant hopes have become the only clear options I currently have.
I don’t know what the future holds. There are no guarantees that my efforts will succeed. But I know I am doing all that I can and there is something freeing in that. Life isn’t perfect or easy. I’m still sick. I still have to deal with all that comes with that. But I will keep moving forward and hold onto hope. And I will continue to live with exclamation points.
I will also continue to look for the good. It is all around us. It is in nature, it is in our friends and family. It is in music, and art. It is in good food. It is in my pets. It is in giving and it is in kindness. It is in gratitude. I firmly believe that hope lives in the good. And with hope and some exclamation points, I will keep on moving!