A fellow prostate cancer blogger, Tim, highlighted a quote from my last post: “Everybody dies. But not everybody lives.” But it was Tim’s comment, “I wonder if [the author] includes tidying the garage, six trips to the dump and a couple to charity shops in [living],” that became an “a-ha” moment for me when I first read it.
I absolutely believe that “tidying the garage, six trips to the dump and a couple to charity shops,” can be included in living.
Sure, each of us should push ourselves to experience things outside of our comfort zone as we go through life, whether we’ve been diagnosed with cancer or not. It’s how we grow and learn. But sometimes those of us in our situation feel pressured to create and tackle that bucket list of crazy things that we must do before checking out to ensure that we’ve lived our remaining days to the fullest.
I wasn’t planning on climbing Kilimanjaro, paddling the Amazon, or bungee jumping off the New River Gorge bridge before my diagnosis, so why should I feel compelled to do those things now? Will doing those things make my life more complete or make me feel that I’m living? Perhaps. But doing those things that we enjoy the most—even the mundane decluttering—is also living.
In fact, we’ll likely cherish those moments that we routinely derive pleasure from much more than crapping in our pants as we plummet a few hundred feet head-first towards a boulder-strewn river, with the only thing between us and certain death being a giant rubber band tied around our ankles. (Can you tell bungee jumping is not on my bucket list??)
We already have enough stress and pressure in our lives dealing with the cloud of cancer; we don’t need to add to it by trying to live up to contrived societal expectations set in some trite song lyric—Live like you were dying.
So my epiphany this morning was that I get to define what living means. Living means doing those things that make me happy.
You can send me a postcard from the summit of Kilimanjaro. I’ll live by strolling along the beach, creating a complex spreadsheet, photographing desert flowers, or going on one of my infamous cross-country road trips to color in my map.