A New Look from Borrowed Time
Just ten years ago I sat across the desk from a doctor with a stethoscope. "Yes," he said, "there is a lesion in the left upper lobe. You have a moderately advanced case..." I listened, stunned, as he continued: "You'll have to give up work at once and go to bed. Later on, we'll see..." He gave me no assurance.
Feeling Like a man who, in mid-career, has suddenly been placed under sentence of death with an indefinite reprieve, left the doctor's office, walked over to the park and sat down on a bench - perhaps, as I then told myself, for the last time. I needed to think.
In the next three days I cleared up my affairs. Then I went home, got into bed and set my watch to tick off not the minutes but the months.
Two and a half years, and many dashed hopes later, I left my bed and began the long climb back. It was another year before I made it.
I speak of this experience because these years that passes so slowly taught me what to value and what to believe. They said to me: Take time before time takes you.
I realize now that this world I'm living in is not my oyster to be opened, but my opportunity to be grasped. Each day to me is a precious entity. The sun comes up and presents me with twenty-four brand-new, wonderful hours - not to pass but to fill. I've learned to appreciate those little all-important things I never thought I had the time to notice before - the play of light on running water, the music of the wind in my favorite pine tree.
I seem now to see and hear and feel with some of the recovered freshness of childhood. How well, for instance, I recall the touch of the spriny earth under my feet the day I first stepped upon it after the years in bed. It was almost more than I could bear. I was like regaining one's citizenship in a world one had nearly lost.
Frequently I sit back and say to myself: Let me make note of this moment I'm living right now. Because in it I'm well, happy, hard at work doing what I like best to do. It won't always be like this; so while it is, I'll make the most of it. And afterwards, I'll remember and be greatful.
All this I owe to that long time spent "on the sidelines" of life. Wiser people come to this awareness without having to acquire it the hard way. But I wasn't wise enough. I'm wiser now - a little - and happier.