A few months ago I almost choked to death. Really, it was serious. I was alone,and I had the full realization that I was about to die. I still marvel that I was able to save myself (quite by accident).
You'd think that one would have some sort of epiphany after an experience like that. It would suddenly become clear that death can come at any time, and therefore all of us have a finite and unknown number of years (or months, or minutes) to go. In other words, Holy Moly! Life can turn on a dime, so I'd better get moving.
However, nothing like that happened for me. I think it's because I've realized since I was nine years old that life can turn on a dime. When you've known that much unexpected loss—my mom when I was a child, my daughter almost eight years ago, my husband's ten-year decline before his death three years ago, my healthiest cousin last year—you live with this knowledge all the time. It hangs over you . . . somewhat like following a path at the base of a mountain, passing sign after sign that read FALLING ROCK ZONE.
Well, that certainly sounds negative! Really, it isn't quite like that because most of the knowledge is internal. It's not something I allow to come to the surface every day. But it's always there.
So choking didn't shake me awake, but something did. I don't know what it was exactly, but recently I became aware that I've been stalled for some time. I've been going through the motions, but not making any progress in life. I don't think I've reached the point where I'm too old to progress. My dad at my age bought himself a boat, took up the bicycle, and had himself a good time. His daughter seems to have turned into a screensucker. No TV for me, but I've been spending way too much time with my chin propped on my hand, staring at my computer monitor. (Two monitors, actually. At this computer, I have 44 inches of screen to suck.)
Again, for whatever reason, I was moved to take stock of this situation. It happened just before sleep one night, and I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find and wrote down four things worthy of my time and energy.
That's why on my night table right now sits a pink While You Were Out slip that reads,
Further at least one of these goals every day:
Write a Book
Edit HCL's (my dad) Photos
I'm workin' on it.