Thursday, January 5, 2012

Woosh!

That's the sound of my life blowing by.

I had been hearing that sound for months and months, but was unable to identify it until recently when we were forced to slow down and take care of just the essentials for a while.

Our dog, who we had adopted from the local shelter this past spring, was hit by a car in late October. Amazingly, he suffered only a few cuts and scrapes and a single fractured vertebra. Unfortunately, that vertebra was the gateway to the nerve clusters controlling his tail, bladder, rectum, and hind legs. He was paralyzed, incontinent, and in pain. We have a wonderful vet who took great care of him and taught us how to nurse him and get him started on therapy once the swelling and pain went down. This involved setting up a penned area in the house, giving him meds, carrying him outside to get fresh air and try to go to the bathroom, giving him baths, changing his diaper, working his legs, cleaning his pen, and monitoring his food and water intake... several times a day. This meant we cancelled a lot of activities since we had to be home to care for him.

We did the bare minimum.

It was wonderful.

And he was making progress. Within a month, he was walking. He had regained his continence but could not get up and down the stairs to the house by himself (despite his best efforts), so we still had to carry him outside and bathe him frequently, but we were making progress.

Unfortunately, he developed an infection and finally succumbed after multiple, ineffective rounds of antibiotics. We had family visiting when he passed and a stray dog who had made it known that he wouldn't mind making his home here, but it was still very difficult. I still find myself wanting to take him out to kick his soccer ball or checking his favorite hiding places to make sure he hasn't absconded with the sock I can't seem to find.

That period of canine hospice immediately followed by a family visit and holiday celebrations that changed our daily routine made me realize how quickly life is passing and how much I am advancing in it without really participating in it. My body is there (driving the kids to activities and jobs, teaching, preparing meals, taking photos) but my mind and spirit are often not present. The moments of pausing to recognize "this is a good thing" had been becoming fewer and fewer.

Call it a goal or a resolution or changed habit or what have you, but I am looking forward to being more present. This includes getting rid of stuff (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) that has no purpose but to keep me busy. It also includes being okay with a lack of productivity. I am a type-A personality and am always working on a project while looking forward to the next one. I am fine with this. It is how I was created. What I am not fine with is that this type of drive/ focus has often caused me to value activities, possessions, and relationships in terms of what I get out of them. Sometimes things just are. Cleaning up dog poo for the third time in a day really didn't get me anything (except a house free of poo smell, I suppose), but I was okay with doing it simply because it was something that had to be done. I want more of that.

Writing and posting here has been something I have been wanting to do and missing for a long time, but it didn't seem important because it didn't "get" me anything (money? fame? feedback? not really sure what I wanted, just knew I didn't get it), so I didn't write. Missing it should have been my clue. I like to write. I like the process of creativity that comes from blogging. I need to do it more.

There are other things I will be doing more of: fiction writing, starting a business, taking photos, calling friends to meet for coffee, playing games with the kids.

There are also things I will not be doing: keeping a garden that looks like something off of a magazine cover, keeping a house that looks like it belongs on a magazine cover, going to activities whenever the church is open, reading for hours upon hours a day, staying up until 3am, getting up before 8am.

Doing things.

That's existing.

Doing things thoughtfully. With purpose.

That's living.