This post was originally published in 2010.
You’re probably like me. Every day, I work hard. I write, study, and work on my platform to sell books. I help other people. I spend time with my family and friends. I do the usual life-maintenance things: cooking, cleaning, exercise, bill-paying. I try to get enough sleep and I worry about all of it. This is a normal American life.
And then something happens to drop you right down to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I’m facing surgery for ovarian cancer. Hang on, I don’t know if I have it! Maybe not. Maybe it’s a cyst. Maybe it’s scar tissue from previous surgeries. OC killed two of my aunts, though, so I’m taking this seriously.
While preparing for surgery, it’s hard to focus on the things that typically make up my days. Most of it seems unimportant now, but when I’m back to normal, I’ll return to my usual routine. And there’s the question: should I?
My constant obsessing about happiness, balance, the afterlife, work/love/energy/health – that’s all important if you have the luxury of time and energy. If you are preparing for major surgery and possibly a rough period after that, though, everything changes. I’m trying to clean things up for my husband and son, you know, just in case? And what a nightmare.
Consider all of my files. What if they have to figure out what the hell to do with them? How will they know if it’s straight to the trash or something more important? I have about 75 user name/password combinations to access certain services. What will they do with those? Some of them are linked to automatic charges on a credit card. How will these two good men, assumedly who wouldn’t be dealing with this mountain of work unless they were also simultaneously grieving, deal? Doesn’t it make you sick to even glimpse the possibilities? So I am trying to reduce, focus, organize and/or prioritize the things that make up my life.
As I go through all of it, as I make phone calls and explain to people that for the next few months I won’t be at their meetings or clubs or writing for their newsletters or editing whatever, I come to this inescapable conclusion: much of the flurry of my life is a waste of time and energy.
“The prospect of being hanged in the morning concentrates one’s mind wonderfully.” – Mark Twain
Here is what’s important to me: my health. My husband, family and friends. My writing, and being a part of the online community. Golf. Um, what else? Uh. Let’s see. Hmmmm.
You know what? I can’t think of anything else that deserves to take up my days.