Friday, October 21, 2011

Life or death

So... what was that I said yesterday about living your life before you don't have a choice anymore?

Woke up to the news that my uncle had had a stroke.  Actually, I didn't know it was a stroke until earlier this afternoon, this morning I just knew he had two haematomae in his brain.  This uncle is from the longevity-inclined side of the family, not to mention the stubbornly independent and infallible side.  So he's not supposed to even get a cold, let alone a stroke.

Life doesn't work the way we tell it to, now, does it?

I tend to assume I've inherited the longevity gene myself -- I know I've inherited the stubborn gene (I prefer to call it self-assured...).  So here we have another wake-up call.

Life seems to be telling me to live.  Don't wait until everything's in place, because odds are it won't ever be 100% in place.  Just live.

I remember when I worked at a senior's residence in Toronto, which had an Alzheimer's unit.  One of the residents was in her fifties, having succumbed to (very!) early-onset Alzheimer's.  Her husband, Jack, would come in every day with a big smile on his face and something nice to say to everyone he met.  (I never knew how he did it, considering she was, unfortunately, in the very angry stage of the disease -- perhaps he was trying to make up for her mood?)  He had been a firefighter, and they had been counting the days 'til his retirement, when they could travel the world together.  Well, he did retire, but they never got to travel the world.

I'm a freelance musician, so retirement is never gonna happen, but...  the message is still, obviously, DON'T WAIT 'TIL YOU RETIRE.

I've been talking of visiting Tuscany for years now.  Always in "someday" mode.  Maybe I should just save my damned pennies and book the flight.

Ever since my solo CD was released in 2007, I've been saying "as soon as... [insert "to-do" here], I'll get cracking on my website.  Anyone who has visited my website in the last five years knows full well that it has yet to happen.

Kinda pathetic, when you see all I've done in my voluntary capacities for other people.

My own health scare at the beginning of the year, followed by Don's now, has forced me (although not completely, as evidenced by my website!) to re-evaluate and re-prioritize.  As soon as (yeah, I know) the surgery is done, that re-prioritizing is going to take top priority.

Last month, I announced my resignation as Artistic Director (and general manager, and publicist, and operations co-ordinator, and... and... and...) from the Orillia Folk Society.  Because... you never know when Big Ethyl will explode and mean it, or a teeny-tiny blood clot will cause massive damage, or I'll get hit by a truck or abducted by aliens.

My final thought is not, at this point, going to be "geez, I wish I'd spent more unappreciated volunteer hours furthering other people's careers" -- it's going to be "damn, why did I never take my own career, or my own life, as seriously as I took others?"

Had an interesting chat with my friend / honourary sister Ali last night, who does a lot of work on compassion fatigue.  She recently came from a lecture by Gabor Mate (author of "When the Body Says No") who said, among other things, that in a study linking the inability to say "no" to developing ALS, he had become quite good at predicting who would get ill.

I'm kind of surprised I'm not wheelchair-bound already... Ali and I are now practising really hard our "no", "No", "NO", "NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!"

Because... as I believe I may have alluded to recently, if you don't look after yourself, or ask for help looking after yourself (even more difficult for me than the n-word), nobody's going to jump in and do it for you.

Nobody's going to take my career or my life seriously if I don't.  As a self-employed person, nobody's going to give me a holiday -- or even sick leave -- if I don't.

And even if I eat and exercise and de-stress and do everything I can to look after myself, there's still that truck and those aliens.

So I'm not going to wait until I look good in a bathing suit (seriously, when have I EVER thought I looked good in a bathing suit?) before swimming in the ocean.  I'm not going to wait until I've caught up on all my e-mails before I have lunch (I wouldn't have eaten since 2006, if that were the case...).  I'm not going to finish all the piddly to-dos before I get started on the big projects that matter to me.

And I'm going to re-design my website, so help me Dog...

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