Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It Makes You Think

I've been in a hospital only once before for a procedure - a package discount of wisdom teeth and shoulder surgery back in 1985. I wasn't supposed to stay the night, but because they were operating on my left shoulder, a couple of MIT grads put the IV and blood pressure cuff on the same arm. They kept me overnight because they were concerned my skin was going to die. AWESOME!

So, tomorrow I lose my first body part. Actually I hope it's the only body part I ever have to lose. It's minor, not really a big deal. Gallbladder. Over the past month I adjusted what I ate and found I was able to control most reactions. I learned what had more fat in it than I thought. It was an interesting journey of self-control, even as the weekend messages @ The Park Church were going through the Fruit of the Spirit, ending last Sunday with "Self-Control." I was the illustration for me.

I'm not much of a fried foods, red meat guy, going rather for chicken, fish or turkey burgers without sauces. But suddenly, when those things were off limits, that's all I wanted.

The whole thing has made me think. Any time anesthesia is used there is risk involved. It made me think when the hospital asked: "Do you have a living will and or health care power of attorney? Please bring a copy with you." This is serious and it made me think.

I'm thinking about asking for an under 1-hour discount from the Doctor. He said it would be about 40 minutes because "I was in shape." I think I should get rewarded for that. But then again, I don't want him to rush. I think I'll be OK with the full charge. It made me think.

Everyone reacts differently is what I've learned, at least in the food category. Some friends went back to eating fried things within 2 days. Others it took weeks. Some have told me it took almost a year to figure it out by trial and error.

I don't think I'm worried about. The Park Church has an extremely high per-capita of nurses who have told me anything from: "piece of cake," to "just suck it up and be a big boy!!" I think what I'm more concerned about is missing my daily 90 minutes at the Y for the next couple of weeks. I told Stephanie tonight that it'll be like I'm on taper (swimmer language for those who don't get it). Her quick response with rolling eyes: "I'm going to work!" Not being able to swim for a period of time, nor lift over X pounds, I'm not sure what I'll do with myself. It's made me think.

I've been a bit more existential, thinking about the difference between the temporal and the eternal. It's so easy to pursue that which seems urgent, which often means it's right in front of us, begging for our attention. The eternal is more rewarding in the long run, but it's not "in your face," clamoring for our time and energy. This is not a big deal surgery, but still it's made me think.

What have I been pursuing with my life? What will I be remembered for? What do I want to be remembered for, and am I pursuing that vision? Self-control is a central key. I don't always feel like getting in that pool, but I'm in better shape today than I have been in 20 years. The reward is worth it. It helps to have 2 or 3 others to swim with and we hold each other accountable, basically through sassiness and disparaging remarks when we miss.

The same goes for pursuing my purpose on earth. Having others who hold me accountable is essential, for without that team, I'll be tempted to stop doing those things that no one else sees. These are the necessary things that make the biggest difference. I'm inspired by the new Under Armour commercials with Michael Phelps. One tag line is: "It's the things you do in the dark that put you in the spotlight." That's it - self-control. Lead yourself first.

We human beings tend to disintegrate and become lax over time and these moments of reality - I'm human - I'm not eternal and indestructible - I'm getting older - I won't live forever - are like a slap in the face to wake us up. Life is short, too short to waste not pursuing a dream, a passion, your purpose.

It's made me think. I'm grateful for the pain (it was more a discomfort really) that triggered the doctor visit that led to the ultrasound that brought me to this point. Pain is a friend that reminds me to focus on that which lasts and not worry so much about the things that won't. When the Doctor asked about any pain in the middle of the right side of my back and I said yes, over about the past 9 months, I was a bit shocked. He said: "I'll get of that too!" Awesome!

Spending time over the past month helping my mother in law learn a new normal after the death of her husband (not my father in law), served to double the message - "What do I want my legacy to be?" If I don't know what I want, I can't know how to achieve it. It's the difference between the financial planner who already knows what's best for you versus the one who asks for the details of your needs and wants, understanding your desire for the next generation, before laying out a plan.

I've had a "life goals" list for a while. I've got short-term goals, long-term goals and also dreams "if I get to choose." Proverbs reminds us: "In his heart man plans his way, but it is the Lord who establishes his steps." (16:9)

Life is full of twists and turns, surprises; detours and delays, even the destruction of dreams and plans. It's not the events that determine our end but rather our response. "Some people just get stones," my Doctor said, "even though you eat well and exercise." Awesome! But there are more serious things in most of our lives, things over which we have little control. It's our response that makes it a launching pad or a grave that masquerades as a rut.

With lots of time when I can lift things much less get in the pool until after Easter, I'm hopeful I'll be sharing more with you.

It makes you think.

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