Over the past few weeks and months I’ve been confronted with the question of “what now ?” I’ve settled into a pretty close facsimile of normal life. D and I go to work, the boys go to school, and we spend our weekend together on some adventure (or sport) or another. Some of the details are different- I have to pop in for chemo every couple of weeks, a few days a month I have to carry a pump around, my eating habits aren’t quite what they used to be, and I don’t have near the stamina I did. In broad strokes, however, this is pretty close to life as normal. Except that it’s not.
My professional career is rooted in planning for the future. My current work in Chattanooga, planning the future of an organization that is focused on the future of the community, makes this doubly so. It is a surreal experience to prepare for the next year, the next three years, the next twenty years knowing that I’m not actually going to be a part of it. The flip side of that coin is that I am somewhat prepared, as planners are used to the metaphoric concept of planting trees, the shade of which they will never enjoy.
Despite that preparation, I don’t really know what I should be doing now. Let’s say I’m within the last 6 months (give or take) of life. Should I be doing something profound and exciting? Should I be writing Facebook posts listing the top ten things dying people want you to know? Should I be traveling my ass off trying to see cool buildings and exotic cultures? Will I look back from my deathbed and regret not doing something right now? I don’t know.
So many of the motivations of “normal life” all have future components to them. We work to gain experience so that we can be better at our jobs in the future. We try to excel to garner accolades that will enable us to get better work in the future. We work to earn money so that we can retire in the future. We put our children through school so that they can have a chance to succeed in the future. We eat and drink certain things so that we can have good health in the future. It’s amazing how much of our present time is dedicated to a future that we are not guaranteed.
What then is life when there is nothing to “look forward” to? There is only the present, or “living in the moment” as the kids like to say. When there is a limited future to work toward, what form does motivation take? I’m still trying to figure out the answer, but so far I have found that the promise of money, stuff, and acclaim have not moved me. I haven’t really figured anything out. I have not achieved any level of enlightenment or higher consciousness. This circumstance, however, has forced me to start thinking about life in a way that wasn’t possible before. It’s different, and while I wouldn’t say it’s good, it’s not altogether bad. Learning to live in the moment can be difficult when you’ve spent your life preparing for the future. I’m working on it though, and I’m getting much better.
|I had to dig deep to find an image of the entire C.Rushing crew |
at Christmas. This is the 2011 vintage (excuse the bed-head).
I’m afraid there is no moral to this story or tidy way to wrap it up. So I will leave you with those random thoughts. It occurs to me that this will be my last post before Christmas. Accept my sincerest apologies that the topic was not more in the spirit of the season. I wish you all the merriest of Christmases and hope that the promise of the season enables you to enjoy living in the moment while looking to the future.