Tis the season, the season to look back and take stock of the year past as we look forward to the year to come. And I have had a year that requires much looking back upon. From the joys of a new book and new students to the quite literal heartbreak of a mid-year heart attack my year has been nothing if not eventful.
My heart attack snuck up on me in July and it continues to sneak around my subconscious and my conscious mind. There are days when its residue is but the lightest of breezes but there are also days when it is the stiffest of head winds that blocks any path I might wander. When I try to embrace what happened my arms don’t yet seem to be quite long enough but when I try to battle the ‘Bastard’ as I call it, my heart just doesn’t seem to be in it.
I now realize that my heart attack wasn’t a single hideous event but rather just another day in what I hope to be many years of days. I see it more as a gift now- both a wake up call to a more healthy life and a reminder of all that I have and all that I might be.
This is not to say that I have discounted my heart attack or trivialized it in any way. The person that was wheeled into the operating
room early that Saturday July morning was a different person that walked out 30 hours later. Crumbled was the edifice of invincibility that I had constructed and honed for 40 years since I first learned about heart disease and my family when I was 16. Gone was the hubris of health, the fallacy of fitness that I had held on to for four decades. And in its place? Well, I’m still not sure.
I suppose I am a bit more humble about my health now and certainly more grateful. I seem to feel things now before I am even aware they exist and my appreciation and awareness of all things- good, bad or indifferent- grows daily. This is not to say that my critiques are going to be any more pleasant or that my workshops might actually be fun now. It was a heart attack remember, not a miracle.
The last five months have been a journey of many, many days; my creative mind and open heart often not working in synchrony and often just plain not working. But now, with the help of my close friends, lots of love and the support of you my students and readers I see horizons that I haven’t seen for a long, long time.
I have a new cardiologist now who actually listens to me, laughs at my lame jokes and scolds me when I try to get away with something. I also have a big new project that excites me more than I have been excited in a long, long time. Words are again trickling into my creative soul and images to capture now linger in my mind and memory cards.
But this doesn’t just have to my wake up call. Let’s pretend I took one for the team and you, my dear, patient reader, are part of this team. It’s the holidays now, a time of presents and celebration, of an inspiring story and pledges of forgiveness and joy. Any presents you might want to give yourself? Any forgiveness you might want to extend to yourself. Any inspiring story you might want to start about you?
I give you permission to try, to feel, to forgive in the days and weeks and months to come. I also give you permission to celebrate and to find joy everyday. It is my gift to me that I pass on to you. A re-gift if you like but a present nonetheless. You, of course, don’t need my permission for any of this but that’s okay, take it anyway. And if your days brighten just a little bit and your horizons become just a little bit clearer don’t thank me; thank yourself. You deserve it, just as I did.