05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Monday, October 20, 2014

Seizing the Day When Death Comes Near

I have never personally had a near-death experience. Knock on wood. However, I have lost loved
ones and watched those I care for deeply draw close to death in one way or another. Recently, a family member received a potentially devastating medical diagnosis. While I hoped and prayed and agonized for a positive prognosis for him, I admit that I considered mortality in a way I hadn't just days before hearing of his condition.

Generally, like most of us, I suspect, I don't pass my days contemplating the end of my life, nor how many days of existence I might have left. I am usually too busy to even accomplish everything on my daily To Do list, let alone contemplate my mortality. But at certain moments in my life, death has drawn near. Near enough that its presence made me stop and pause. Stop and consider when my life might end. Stop and think about how I want to spend the rest of my days. 

"Live everyday as if it's your last" is a fine adage, but it's difficult to do each and everyday. Perhaps it's a financially necessary day job that prevents us from...climbing Mount Kilimanjaro—or whatever else our life's goals may be. And perhaps the aphorism does't simply mean we should quit a job that feels like drudgery and spend the rest of our days in Tuscany (though that sounds pretty good). Maybe it means we should view each day as precious, whatever we do with it. And, too, that we should pair down our lengthy life's To Do lists or bucket lists to the items that truly have significant, essential meaning to us. 

My family member is going to be just fine. After a quickly scheduled surgery by a talented surgeon, he's on the mend. In fact, he's already back at home with his family and enjoying life with as much verve and passion as he did before his diagnosis. And, according to him, a new portion of gratitude. For me, worrying about him and considering life and death, weighing my life up to this point and wondering how long my cord extends, made me realize there are a few things that matter to me a great deal, and a lot that, in the end, will matter very little. 

Family and friends are at the top of my list, but so too is my writing. After years of stops and starts, I finally got serious about my writing within the last two years. At the start of 2014, I published my first novella, Scandalous Wager. On November 1st, I will publish my third installment in my Whitechapel Wagers historical romance series. I am thrilled to finally be finishing my stories, publishing, and growing as a writer. Because when I consider what I want to accomplish in the rest of my days, writing is high on my list. Moments like the recent experience of hearing of a loved one's potentially serious medical diagnosis reminded me how precious everyday is, and how important it is to "seize the day."

Is writing on your list? Is there something you truly want to accomplish or pursue but have been putting it off for someday? 


Judith Ashley said...

In the early 90's I had a couple of 'wake-up' calls and that changed me. I know you family member is grateful, I am also. At the time I reconsidered how I was living my life and have made a daily priority to "be happy". If, at the end of every day I can honestly say I was happy, then it has been a good day, a successful day. And each night when I first get into bed, I review my day and come up with at least one thing for which I'm grateful.

However much time I've left, my goal is to enjoy what I have, do what I love, spend time with people I love and enjoy and be happy. And that does include my writing - maybe not so much the promo part of it, but I do love writing about The Sacred Women's Circle.

Maggie Lynch said...

Great post, Christy. I liked this: "Maybe it means we should view each day as precious, whatever we do with it."

I believe that quote also refers to how we treat others. In the hustle-bustle to meet deadlines, accomplish goals, deal with family and friends we do often feel it is drudgery and tempers become short and patience thin.

Having had cancer early in my adult life I have contemplated that question. It makes me pick moments to savor even amidst the craziness of daily life. The other thing it taught me is that spending my life worrying about the future, at the risk of being in the present, was one way to alienate me from all the wonders of each day.

I am a goal-driven person and my writing career reflects that. However, I've had to take a step back and remind myself that I write to have a voice, to shape stories, and to share lessons I've learned in life through my characters. Yes, it would be great to be a millionaire or have a book made into a movie, but putting all my energy into accomplishing those goals cuts into the most important time--the time to craft the stories I want/need to write.

Savor your writing time and the stories you create. I'm one who really wants to see more books from you. You are passionate about history and Britain and I love to read about your passion.

Christy Carlyle said...

Thanks, Maggie and Judith, for your wonderful, inspiring, and heartfelt comments.

I've had a few wake up calls too, Judith. Even my family member's experience was a bit of a wake up call for me. Focusing on a gratitude is a great anchor. I try to do that too.

You're right, Maggie. Stopping, savoring, and enjoying the moment is a challenge when you're so focused on goals, which are necessarily all about the future. It's a tenet I need to take to heart and embrace more often.

Thank you, both, so much for reading and commenting.

Sarah Raplee said...

Christy, you've written an inspiring post. We do sometimes forget the present when focused on the future. A health scare certainly gives us perspective.