Tuesday, October 26, 2010


An acquaintance asked me a question a few days ago. "Was your experience with your brain tumor a life changing event?" I've been thinking about that question a lot. Short answer: No. After all, there was never a question of malignancy, and the "surgery" was by gamma knife...no real knives involved, so I can’t say that the past six months have been the cause of in any major changes in my life. However, I am aware of some changes in perspective, one of which involves time. I've spent many hours thinking about how I've had the rare (to me) opportunity to look through the looking glass. What I saw was the reality of how relatively little time I have left on this planet. Don't get me wrong--"relatively" is the key word here. I'm not being maudlin, merely realistic. But I'm in my mid-60's. It’s a good guess that two-thirds of my life are behind me. So...just what did my Great Brain Zap teach me about time? Nothing that all philosophers, novelists, and poets haven't already said: We don't live forever. Use time wisely. But it took the Great Brain Zap to get me beyond a superficial awareness of that philosophy and into living it. Here’s an example: I no longer feel guilty about putting a wanna-do before a gotta-do. Six months ago I never would have read a novel at 10:00 in the morning. Start a painting at 4:00 in the afternoon? Certainly not! That's supper-cookin' time. I learned my mother’s lessons were well...but they no longer fit my life. Supper doesn't always have to be ready by 5:00, nor do I have to be the person in charge of its preparation. Another example: I'm no longer willing to suffer fools gladly. No longer am I willing to spend time with the casual acquaintance whose main topic of conversation is him/herself. You know the kind of person I'm speaking of: "Enough about me; let's talk about you. What do you think of me?" This last one really surprises me: Six months ago I never would have excused myself from tedious conversations with people I hardly know. In fact, I never would have had the gumption to be so honest as to write those lines. No...no earth-shattering changes. But I now know in ways I didn't know before the truth of a favorite quote by Anna Quindlan: "The time we are afforded to find happiness and satisfaction cannot be spared or wasted...whenever possible, dreams must be pursued, not deferred."

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