Often, what we get out of life depends on how we look at things. These last few weeks of rain began to get on my nerves. The grass is growing and the tree that came down in the storm needs to be hauled off. Except the yard is soggy from all the rain, so it all has to wait. This both gets on my nerves, and also is simultaneously a relief. I can use the time to work on my projects.
While I shivered in the blustery wind and cold rain as I took the dog out for her morning constitutional, I couldn’t see much good in the weather. I turned on my computer and my brother Tommy had posted: “Been shelling chestnuts this morning, now in the lanai enjoying the cool air and a hot cup of coffee.” The accompanying photo was peaceful, beautiful, and gave me a new perspective of the incessant rain.
I drove through town yesterday and saw that gas had dropped to $2.83. All of a sudden, I noticed my tank was half empty. As I pumped the gas, I realized that when gas was reaching new highs, I’d have considered my tank half full and would have passed up the gas station. It’s all in how you look at things.
When I drove into Walmart’s parking lot, I noticed my car thermometer showed sixty-six degrees. The sun was shining brightly so I left my jacket in the car. As I walked toward the door, I noticed a cold breeze and pulled my thin sweater a little closer. I noticed that people’s different perspectives of this autumn day varied from a woman wearing a winter coat to a man clad T-shirt and shorts pushing a cart. They all seemed more comfortable than I did considering that I was dressed more appropriately for the weather than either of them.
Perspective affects our big decisions in life as well as how we react to the small moments that make up our day. As we plug along from day to day, we can lose sight of the possibility that the rug can figuratively be pulled out from beneath our feet and we fall flat on our keister. What happens then depends on us. We can sit on the floor and cry from the pain, or we can stand up and keep moving forward.
We’ve all seen it, haven’t we? Those amazing people who choose to refuse to stay down, but instead continue to live life to the fullest. When life looks the bleakest, they focus on the thin ray of sunshine that breaks through the gloomy haze.
As my niece, Angie, explained it: clarity. From the moment, she found out that she had colon cancer, she knew she was terminal. Taking what time she had left, she experienced her dream wedding and spent quality time with her family, sharing her radiant smile, love, and hugs.
She shared her thoughts, hopes, happiness, on Facebook. On November 23, 2012, she wrote: I think we all know what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful I’m still alive. Alive, to love my family. Another day to see Reiana smile, hear Madison’s laugh and see Connor’s beautiful eyes. And most of all to hear my hubby tell what “he thinks” are funny jokes. BTW, God, thank you for bringing my brother back to me. Occasionally, she spoke of her regrets, sorrow, and fears, but by far her words reflected her positive perspective on life. She died on December 11, 2012 a short time after her thirty-ninth birthday.
Alzheimer’s is another disease that can challenge a positive attitude. It is a disease without a cure or effective treatment and the only prognosis is death. Upon diagnosis, death isn’t normally immanent, which makes it more difficult to see the urgency of seizing each moment of joy. The care partner may be facing ten to twenty years of watching a disease rob a loved one of his or her memory, communication ability, skills, and talents. Yet, if you consider the expanse of time, it would be foolish to allow this disease to steal your happiness.
When Jim was in the early stages of dementia we were able to travel, spend time with family and friends. We shared many happy moments and good times. It was a bleak diagnosis, but life went on for ten more years. Even during the final stages, I loaded Jim into the van for trips to Dairy Queen or to take a walk in the park. When he couldn’t walk anymore, I wheeled him around the nursing home or parking lot.
How much you get out of life depends on how you look at it. Most of us don’t know how much time we have so we assume we have plenty. Enough that we can spend hours, days, years, or decades without a thought as to how much time we allow ourselves to sit on our keister and cry about the unfairness of it all.
Maybe the best thing we could do for ourselves is to consider how differently we would live if we knew we only had a short time left. Ask yourself: Who would I want to see? What would I want to do? How would I want to be remembered? Would that change my perspective?
copyright © October 2014 by L.S. Fisher