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The other day I was in the elevator at a major Boston hospital heading to the 16th floor.  The elevator was full of people; visitors carryi...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The life around me.




People ask me all of the time if it is depressing working with the dying, the sick, the bereaved.

I will have to be honest and say that, yes, sometimes it is. I see a lot of pain and suffering, a lot of loss. I wish I could do more to help, but often I am only able to provide some comforting words. It is quite frustrating some days. Maddening on most days.

But, I also have to be honest and say that I have never been happier.

What?

Perhaps I don't take the little things for granted as much. Perhaps seeing death so much has opened my eyes a bit and I see more clearly what is important. Perhaps I have grown up a bit. I am not perfect by a long shot, but I am more centered, more content.

I don't really know why. I don't try to analyze it. I just feel it. And that is enough for me.

I am the happiest when I am with my husband and daughter, even if we are just at home doing absolutely nothing. I just like being with them.

I enjoy all the little things, even on bad days. I know that they help us to grow. I try to not to get bogged down with pettiness. I try to avoid petty people.

I try to learn more every day, even something simple. I read more. Perhaps because I know there is a definite end, I want to cram as much life into my years as possible.

I want to love my daughter as much as I possibly can. My husband, too. Love is gift we withhold all to often. And it what people crave the most.

I squandered many years. Caught up in too much nonsense like jealously, anger, and the like. I still have those feelings, of course I do. But I try to just observe them now, let them run their course and for the most part, they dissipate on their own. I do not let those feelings own me any longer.

I also try to avoid negative, petty people. We need to tend our lives like a garden, constantly weeding. Too many weeds can choke out the flowers. And that is true in life. Too many negative people can make you think that your life is negative, that it is bereft of joy. Sometimes we just have to let go of people, or at least distance ourselves. Not easy to do, I know. But essential to the soul.

We also have to take care of ourselves in other ways. One highly regarded published female MD says that we need to look at ourselves like a tree. When the leaves wither, we have to look at the soil that feeds it. The 'soil' being our diet, our rest, our exercise, our feelings. When we take care of ourselves, everything is better.

I love to look at the life around me. I pause often and listen to the birds singing, kids laughing, people talking. I have to make a conscious effort to stop for a moment and actually do that as I am scurrying about my days trapped in busyness. It literally only takes seconds to stop and tune in, but those seconds I spend doing it make the day much, much better. I have to sometimes write it on my to do list or I forget. To Do #3, stop and appreciate life. Next to buying laundry detergent and doing bills.

I try to tune in more to the cadence of life and tune out some of the stuff that weighs heavy; the news media with the 24 hour "spin", the complaining moms at pick up who have great lives but somehow only feel alive when ripping into other's lives, the mess that our world is in and for the most part, politics. I am not saying that I am not aware, I am just trying to keep a distance.

I am also much more thankful for things than I used to be. I used to worry that perhaps I was not given my fair share at times. We have all felt that way, I know. But there are so many things that I am lucky to have and so I thank the Gods or the spirits or whomever. Sometimes I thank my hard-working husband, sometimes I thank my daughter. Sometimes I even thank myself, or my deceased parents or even the bad, horrible, very worst of times that taught me to be tougher.

So, take a moment to listen to the sounds of life around you. Breath them in. Turn off the TV, the iPod, the phone. Step outside and hear the birds, the lawn mowers humming, the cars rushing by, the dogs barking. This is life. This is what it is all about. Take one moment to be thankful you can be part of it all.

Even at the office, at that drudgery of a thankless job, find one thing to savor. On particularly bad days at my job, and there are quite a few, I focus on the pay. I know that seems awfully shallow, but my pay allows me to enjoy extras in my life that I would not otherwise have. So I am thankful I can earn money. Money cannot buy happiness they say; but a lack of it sure buys a lot of pain.

So, anyway, try to find a few things that you can turn to when the going gets tough. And think about them. Hug yourself occasionally. Your life is just an important as anything else. Anybody else.

Just keep remembering to tune into it. The life around you.

“Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.”
~~~Anonymous


“Our lives at times seem a study in contrast... love & hate, birth & death, right & wrong... everything seen in absolutes of black & white. Too often we are not aware that it is the shades of grey that add depth & meaning to the starkness of those extremes.”
~~~Ansel Adams

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