Oh, that’s right. I forgot.

Posted on August 8, 2013

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Recently, I came down with an incredibly overachieving virus.

It was awful. I was holed up in bed for a week and was still sick enough to stay holed up inside the house for a week after that.  Each day brought on a host of new symptoms and, well, I started to get a little worried. Because even after everything else passed, there was still a bad cough that would just not go away.

For most people, a bad cough is probably just an annoying, lingering, respiratory thing. For me, though, it’s always this huge cause for concern.

I had a bad cough for two years when I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a bad cough for months when I was diagnosed with heart failure. So my mind slipped into its circles of worries. Am I really sick again? What’s wrong with my body? Will I need some kind of treatment? Will I need chemo? Will I need to stay in the hospital? Who will take care of my baby if I can’t? And so on and so on and so on. You know the mind. You know how it spirals out of control when you’re afraid.

Turns out, I had a really nasty bug. That was all.

But in those moments of raw fear, when I was afraid that something may really be wrong, something appeared. Something always appears in those moments. I call it: The Illuminating Light of Stuff that’s Important and Shit that’s Not.

And you know what I learned? Do you know what I learned, again, for the upteenth time? So much of the stuff I spend my mental energy on every frickin’ day is just not important. Stuff that’s just not gonna matter at the end of my life.  Like who liked my status on Facebook. Like my toddler’s tantrum at the grocery store. Like the mess in the kitchen. Like the invitation I didn’t receive or the one that I did. Like the two items left on my to-do list. Seriously, people. If you could see inside of my head, you would wonder why I even bother coaching others when I’ve got so much work to do on myself.

There are things that are important in life-like our relationships with other people-and then there’s the shit that doesn’t matter. Which is, basically, almost everything else.

I know this already though. I thought I learned this the last time I almost died. How many times am I going to forget it?

Do you know what I used to tell my students when I was a teacher? I told them if they couldn’t remember the lesson long-term, then they hadn’t really learned it yet. So there. For all the accolades I receive for my insight and intelligence, the verdict is in: I am an extremely slow learner.

I guess, if I’m being 100% honest, what I’m really afraid of is that next time I won’t get a second chance. Or a third chance. Or whatever chance I’m on, as I seem to rack up near-death experiences like other people rack up trophies.  What if I go to my grave forgetting that, at the end of the day, the most essential thing about life is to learn to love others and to notice the love given in return? How many times do I have to circle back around to this before I get it? How many times am I going to think-Oh that’s right. I forgot. This is what matters after all.

It seems that I have a terrible memory.

I had my yearly check-up with my cardiologist this week. 21 months ago, when I was first diagnosed with heart failure, I was told that my heart was so damaged I would need to be on medicine for the rest of my life. This week, my doctor told me that my heart had been at  normal strength for over a year. So, he said, time to come off of the medication. You have completely recovered.

Again, I get another chance. This is a familiar feeling. I felt this way 15 years ago, when my oncologist told me that I was in remission. This time though, I don’t want to squander the borrowed time. I want to live my life like it’s sacred.

I went to an easy yoga class last night. I’ve recovered from the virus from hell but am too weak to do anything physically challenging. I thought a nice, basic class would do the trick.

The instructor had us doing easy twists the entire 90 minutes. This is what she said: We are spending this class twisting because we need to digest and process our experiences. We need to learn what it is we are supposed to learn and we need to let go and detox the rest. When experiences come into our lives, it is important that we learn from them and not forget what they came to teach us.

Can you believe that?! Now if that is not a sign, I don’t know what is. It was almost like she was talking to me specifically. Don’t forget!

I was sobbing at the end of this class, ironically in Savasana. {Savasana is this yoga pose where you lie on the ground and do nothing. It’s also called corpse’s pose because it’s the pose where you’re supposed to pretend that you’re dead. I guess because someone figured when you’re dead then you can really relax. None of that for me, thanks!} 

Not too shabby for my first day of living sacred, huh?

If I were to say what I want to remember it would be this: Don’t forget what you’ve learned from each and every life hardship. Don’t forget about all the work you’ve put in so far and what you’ve gained from it. And of course, don’t forget what this whole gig is really all about. 

Let’s be honest. I’m probably going to forget. When this happens, may the Illuminating Light of Stuff that’s Important and Shit that’s Not shine down upon me. And you, too, if you need it.  May we realign, once more, to the knowing of the sacredness of our existence and a place of better remembering.

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