My last post was January 1. That’s not a good sign for me.
You know how that scratchy throat or that slight pressure behind your eyes sometimes is a symptom of a bigger problem, a virus? When I stop writing it’s a symptom of a larger issue in my life.
Writing is how I process. It’s how I pray and how I work things out. I don’t write for readers. I write mostly for myself. When I’m writing it means I’m taking time to reflect. When I’m not it means I am letting other things own my time.
But, there’s a good sign in my lack of letters on pages. There was a point when I was writing most every day because I had nothing else to do. My days consisted of playing video games online, posting to Facebook and waiting for my wife to come home from work. I read books and magazines and online articles dozing in and out of sleep. Each day my liver disease took a bit more of my ability to function until I lost my ability to retain what I read. Still, I could turn on my computer and write.
The good sign is that now, 31 months after my son saved my life by giving me half of his liver in a living donor transplant, my life is so full that I am struggling to discipline myself to take time for the things I need to keep myself healthy mentally and spiritually. Except for the 9-11 pills I take every day to keep me alive and functioning without rejection, I am just like everyone else. Just like everyone else.
My days of disappearing into my permanent indentation in our old, green couch with its overstuffed pillows are becoming a fading memory. That couch where I spent 20 hours a day has even been replaced with a new sectional, in our new home as part of my new life. New.
While I watch others in my transplant support group struggle with complications and side effects from their transplants, my biggest struggle comes in balancing my time, refusing to over-commit and being still. I remember that while I was in the losing to liver disease and facing death, I promised myself that if I survived I would never return to the workaholic lifestyle. I would always stop to smell the roses no matter how cliche they might be.
I survived and now I feel like I am too often driving past the roses at 70 miles per hour with my windows rolled up tightly and Bluetooth earpiece resting on my ear. I’ve not walked the cobblestones of the Old Port with my camera in my hand, I’ve not written and I’ve not created much of anything in far too long. I don’t have time. Whose fault is that? Mine.
Good and bad.
It’s good, miraculous even, that I have a full life of health and energy. It’s bad that I am allowing the minutia of life to drain my time and energy and hold a place it does not deserve. I need mental, spiritual and physical exercise to take me from surviving to thriving.
Last week I escaped the noise to think, pray, read, write and sleep for 5 days. Looking at myself, I had to admit that when it comes to taking care of the mental/spiritual side of myself, I’m failing. I sketched out an action plan for change knowing full well that, unlike when I was dying from a failing liver, I control the outcome. My survival, mentally and spiritually, is up to me.
I came home determined to own my schedule and build roses into each day. I came home determined to adjust my speed and not allow the urgent to squeeze out the important. I came home with a new schedule for my days including turning off electronics at 8:30 PM, bedtime at 9, exercise at 5:30 AM and 90 minutes of reading, writing and reflection to start each day.
I’m thankful that I am fighting this time management battle again 31 months after transplant. I’m thankful that I have too much to do, too many goals and so many possibilities racing through my mind. It means that my life is indeed back to normal and that I, like most everyone I come into contact with, am so pressed by its demands that I need to remember what it means to “be still and know” that my God is in control. He has a better life in mind for me than the high anxiety, burnout pace I’ve been living.
There is life after transplant. It’s up to each one of us to decide how to live it.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30, TLB