Julia Baird, "Was It Cancer? Getting the Diagnosis":
. . . When I came out of the hospital, everyone suddenly seemed consumed with irrelevant, foolish, temporal worries. Reading the fine print of your mortality is a great sifter of rubbish. I frowned at the complaints posted on social media when I was recovering — people who had the flu, were annoyed by politicians, burdened by work, or who were juggling jobs and children — and wanted to scream: BUT YOU ARE ALIVE!!!! Alive! Each day is a glory, especially if upright and able to move with ease, without pain.
I am still grappling with what all of this means. But in this short time, three age-old truths became even more apparent to me.
First, stillness and faith can give you extraordinary strength. Commotion drains.
The “brave” warrior talk that so often surrounds cancer rang false to me. I didn’t want war, tumult or battle. Instead, I just prayed to God. And I think what I found is much like what Greek philosophers called ataraxia, a suspended kind of calm in which you can find a surprising strength.
Second, you may find yourself trying to comfort panicked people around you. But those who rally and come to mop your brow when you look like a ghost, try to make you laugh, distract you with silly stories, cook for you — or even fly for 20 hours just to hug you — are companions of the highest order. Your family is everything.
Third, we should not have to retreat to the woods like Henry David Thoreau to “live deliberately.” It would be impossible and frankly exhausting to live each day as if it were your last. But there’s something about writing a will that has small children as beneficiaries that makes the world stop.
My doctor asked me a few days ago how I became so calm before the surgery. I told her: I prayed, I locked out negativity and drama and drew my family and tribe — all big-hearted, pragmatic people — near. I tried to live deliberately.
“Can I just say,” she said, “you should do that for the rest of your life.”
I am all for learning lessons while in a place of health and happiness, rather than being hit over the head with them in less pleasant times.
Living deliberately, living in the moment, being mindful—these are "trending" concepts. Being present in our relationships, leaning in to wonderful, fleeting moments and memories—and teaching the next generation, by example, what it means to "be there."