In the midst of all of this, life goes on. Responsibilities exist. Goals continue. They’ve changed, but not by much. I’ve known who I am and what I want to do with my life for quite some time and I’ve made incremental steps in that direction. Now I’m more focused. I don’t have the patience to do things that don’t matter to me anymore. I don’t have the patience for anything that seems inconsequential.
The neighbors (not the nice ones who bring me chocolate chip cookies and mums) are power washing and it’s an incessant vibrating whine. This can’t go on much longer, I think, and then it does. When it stops it feels like my head’s been freed from a vice. When it starts again I want to hurl a brick.
I know I should update everyone on what’s happening healthwise, but it’s hard because I don’t actually have any updates. I don’t know if I’m having surgery. I don’t know when any treatment will begin. I shopped Friday afternoon and it was the first time I’d gone to the grocery store by myself in almost four weeks. As I placed my items on the belt at the third and final stop I realized it was after five. I’d left a voice mail at my doctor’s office that morning asking if they knew if surgery was recommended. I kept my phone on me all afternoon, checking frequently, but at 5:01 pm I knew I’d have another two days of waiting.
Have I mentioned that the waiting is what sucks the most? The not knowing? It does, but this time I’m a bit more zen about it. I will not know anything more until at least Monday morning. Between now and then I could worry and use my active imagination to conjure up all sorts of scenarios. That’s pointless, though, and it’s certainly not helpful, especially when I have so many things I can do.
I have four projects that need my attention, three of them major. Midwest Road Trip Adventures is in the hot-and-heavy pre-order stage. Tuesday I have a Zoom presentation with Niles-Maine District Library. I’ll be reading passages from both “Two Lane Gems” books interspersed with road trip tips. Then there’s the Midwest Travel Network Writer’s Workshop; I’m leading fifteen hours of instruction. And, I’m writing and designing Living Landmarks of Chicago.
Worry? Who’s got time to worry?
So much of the past two months has been spent shuttling back and forth to medical appointments. So much of the past two and a half weeks has been devoted to recovery. Fear and frustration, my unwanted roommates. I don’t have time for them. I don’t have time for this.
Because I don’t know how much time I have before treatment begins, I need to make every moment count. My emotional pits are often precipitated by my inability to go go go. My boundless energy has bounds.
Maybe through all of this I’ll learn to slow down a bit. Thursday we drove to Oregon, Illinois, because I wanted to see Lorado Taft’s “The Eternal Indian.” Three hours in the car, one and a half at our destination. We ate delicious sandwiches in a large grove stuffed with tall trees. Fify yards away, an older couple sat in camp chairs. They weren’t reading. They weren’t eating. They weren’t talking. They sat in the shade, arms crossed on their stomachs. We waited as a group of smoking bikers admired the statue. We headed down a trail, but as soon as we saw that it was “steep and treacherous,” we turned around.
I wanted to follow that trail down to the river. To descend the stairs, even though that would mean ascending them later. But it wouldn’t have been the brightest move. So we walked back to the statue and admired the regal figure, the second largest monolithic concrete structure in the world. When we got back to our car another couple was walking towards the statue. They stopped and the man and I made eye contact. “It’s impressive, isn’t it?” I asked.
“It’s our first time,” he said. “We’re visiting. From Mexico. Puerto Vallarta.”
“Welcome!” I said, giving him one of my best smiles. “Welcome!” He smiled back, and the woman turned and smiled as well, two grins of true pleasure. “Thank you!” they said. I waved, got in the car, and we drove out of the park, across the river, and towards the town.
We walked a bit, not much. Around the courthouse and to the library. It’s a Carnegie, and the second floor is a gallery with works by Taft, including a model of the monolith we’d just seen, and other artists. It was closed. Right now, that’s where the books are quarantined.
In between the projects and responsibilities, I’ll take more days like that. More moments that I won’t put off. The gift of my current uncertainty is the oft-cliched understanding that our time is not guaranteed. Don’t wait. Eat the cake. Call the friend. See the statue. Welcome a stranger.
Let go of the worry. Breathe and do and love and hope. Life goes on when we live it.