The self-discovery journey I’ve been writing about for awhile was mostly my search for identity, but along the way I have learned a lot about how I react to things. I have a pattern. When I first face a situation I tend to project possible scenarios and sometimes act on those projections. My obsessive nature can take over at that point and I can get worked up over things that might never happen. Learning this kind of thing about oneself can come in handy for preventing embarrassing behavior or to help reduce stress by reducing obsessive over-thinking of negative projected scenarios.
Last week a new little medical situation developed and I began to react with my usual pattern. It is probably nothing serious but for a few minutes I contemplated one of those scenarios … one in which whatever is wrong turns out to be a rapidly expanding, incurable disease that will take my life in two or three days. There is no clear diagnosis yet but it is probably NOT the scenario I just described.
For a few minutes, however, I thought what that would be like if I only had two days to live. When I have gone through this process before it usually makes me nervous, my heart rate climbs, I can feel my stress level increase, I say silly things about what I’m thinking, then I calm down when I realize I’m being foolish.
This time I calmly thought about it and said to myself, “Hmm, OK, I’ve had an interesting life; I wasn’t ready to go but, well, whatever. I wonder what my friends and relatives will say when they read some of the crap on my computer or my decades of hand-written musings. Will anyone be able to figure out who to call to give them the news because my home office is so disorganized and my three or four closest friends don’t even know each other.”
I was a little surprised at myself for that reaction. Don’t worry, I am damn well NOT ready to end it. I have a high self-preservation attitude and a belief that something significant is ahead for me; that my education and life experiences up to this point have some meaning and will add up to the skill set needed to have some positive impact on something or somebody. That being said, it still puzzles me that I didn’t have my usual obsessive reaction to the slim chance that something medical is actually wrong with me.
One scene that did come to mind: if I only had two days to live and was unable to travel during that time, I would move heaven and earth and spend every last dollar I could find to make it possible for a very specific seven or eight people to travel to see me. I couldn’t imagine not seeing them one last time. Some of them I see a few times a year, some I haven’t seen in more than ten years. They are spread all around the world. I have hands to shake, lips to kiss, thoughts to share, stories to tell and hear, smiles to photograph one last time. Geez, I am getting more worked up over this now than when I first thought about it.
As I wrote that last paragraph (which, by the way, wasn’t how I thought this story would go), it occured to me that I have the power to do what I described, if spread out over some time. So why haven’t I?
What about you? Do you ever think this way? I wrote about this last year and asked a similar question. What would you do if you had only two days to live? And assuming you have years left, why haven’t you done some of this? Like travel to visit special friends.
I ask you as much to hear the questions out loud for myself as to know your answer. But if you’re one of those specific seven or eight people I mentioned, I want to find a way to spend in-person time with you SOON and OFTEN. Or maybe you could visit me. What are we waiting for? What if the Mayan Doomsday date of December 21, 2012 really is the end of the world? Or what if the world ends in two days? Any plans for tomorrow? Call me. I’ll be at the doctor’s office.