This is a column I write for the Hudson Valley magazine "Healthy You".

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Leaving It All Behind
December 20, 2015

As a young girl shopping with my mom in the Piggly Wiggly, I often wandered off to help somebody find something.  Fifty years later I’m still helping people find things: keys, dreams, purpose, good health.

If life is a department store then I am that clerk who wants to know if she can help you find something . . . anything at all. I have an ability to help people find things, all sorts of things and sometimes when people start looking for something they wind up finding stuff they didn’t even know that they were looking for.            

Sometimes I even help myself find things I need. Like this morning as I was rummaging through papers on my desk before leaving to visit a friend in ICU, a very sick man who has tubes as numerous as veins trailing in and out of his body, and I found this quote from Steve Jobs: 

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.  Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.  You are already naked.  There is no reason not to follow your heart. . . Stay hungry.  Stay foolish.

 

I was still thinking about that quote when I arrived at the hospital and found my friend’s life hanging in the balance. I sat by his side wondering how I could ever forget to live my life as if time is running out. Why don’t I take more chances and love more fully?  Why don’t I go for what I want with everything I have?

And sitting there in the hospital room I found something I really needed to know about myself: I don’t want to undervalue life.  I love it here even when it is rough and I’m sad or hurting. I also don’t want to disappoint my deepest truest self.  It would be a shame to be so busy pretending to be alive that I fail to give the wonderful person within myself all that I can give her.  And I know I don’t want to miss out on all the glorious sensation and healing and sound and wonder of life. 

I want to explore the world just beyond my reach. I want to see if there isn’t more I am to do with all the mad cool ingredients that life has given me.  I want to break through my own narrow constructs and see the grand mystery and maybe even get a glimpse of truth while I am at it. 

My heart goes out to all of us who know what it feels like to sit beside a friend who is hooked up to tubes, existing somewhere in between life and death.  For the next hour as the ventilator hummed and other machines beeped I remembered how when I was that young girl shopping in Piggly Wiggly I would put everything in my cart that I wanted but as my mom and I got closer to the checkout I would un-shop and put back most of it.  I still do the same thing.  It’s a great feeling to just let myself fill my cart with everything I want, even if when it is time to check out I have to leave it all behind.


 
 
Copyright © Julie Evans