Thursday, May 9, 2019

What are we busy about?

“Your right ovary is enlarged. That’s unusual after menopause.”

This is not something you want to hear from your gynecologist when your mother died from ovarian cancer at 61 years of age. I stare at the ceiling and try to stay calm.

“Let’s schedule an ultrasound.”

I go mute. I don’t ask any questions. So unlike me. I accept my sentence and graciously take my referral paperwork from the nurse and half listen to her instructions. I need to get to work for a meeting at 9am.  I’ll process this later. It’s Wednesday and life is busy.

On the following Monday evening, in anticipation of my early morning ultrasound appointment, I decide to go through my personal books. In a Marie Kondo moment when I sold my house on Del Monte, I gave away boxes and boxes of books to the library. I have to admit it was NOT life-changing magic. It was like cutting off an arm. What I have left on my bookshelves are most treasured.

I paged through them one by one- reading underlined sentences and comments written in the margins and tearing up over little pictures and holy cards I stuffed away in the pages intentionally. It was the best kind of treasure hunt. But who was this woman who read all these books and hungrily devoured their content? What happened to her? And where is she now?

I contemplate the woman I have become. I’m busy. Too busy. But what am I busy about?

Meetings, counseling teenagers, paperwork, data, traffic duty, chaperoning dances juxtaposed with weddings, new grand babies, summer vacation…  how could I ever fit in (God forbid) surgery, radiation, chemo, oh my. The what ifs took over.

The wine helped. I got a pricey bottle of red just for the occasion.

The next morning in the middle of yet another meeting I received an email from my doctor with a clean bill of health. It’s just a fibroid- nothing to be concerned about. Back at work I feel relieved- yet oddly changed. What matters? What am I missing here?

And the larger more encompassing question… would it take a debilitating illness in order to give myself permission to step off this hamster wheel?

I started this blog over a month ago. Hoping that a clever ending would make it’s way into my consciousness during a bike ride or a hike. That’s what usually happens. But nada, zilch.

What are you busy being about? What are you planning on doing “some day”? When the dishes are done. When you finish the landscaping outside. When you quit your day job. When you win the lottery.

What are you waiting for?

17 Responses

  1. Yikes! This blog went a different direction that I expected from your lead sentence, happily. I’m glad you’re okay. Thanks for sharing a wake-up moment with us all.

    • Thanks, Ed. You seem to be having fun with your creative outlet- photography. I love your pictures! Have you considered being a travel writer?

  2. RO!!! Dis you go for the ultrasound??? I don’t think I knew it way ovarian cancer that took your mom. Did you know that I’m an ovarian cancer survivor?? Do you want me to go with your fur the ultrasound?? I’m 4 hours away, but I will come down and gui with you. This is really important. Please don’t lash. 530-921-7141. Sue

    • Please read the entire blog post! Your answer awaits! I, too, become anxious until I read all the way through . . .

  3. Dave retired early because of cancer and I retired to take care of of my granddaughter. Today would’ve been my FIL’s 102nd b-day, he was retired from working as a bus driver for almost 50 years. Figure out what’s important to you and what you would be fine not doing if you were to die sooner than later. Then you’ll be answer the question you’re asking

    • Good point. So many things I want to do… You can always make more money but you can’t have time back.

  4. Dave retired early because of cancer and I retired to take care of of my granddaughter. Today would’ve been my FIL’s 102nd b-day, he was retired from working as a bus driver for almost 50 years. Figure out what’s important to you and what you would be fine not doing if you were to die sooner than later. Then you’ll be able to answer the question you’re asking

  5. Oh wow! First, I’m so relieved you have a clean bill of health. Second, what a gift these terrifying moments are–when we face the reality that this life is temporary, fragile, precious and often taken for granted. I’ve been going through the same questions, Rosemarie. I’ve chosen a profession that’s all about helping students question their actions and thoughts. I help them get through the tough papers they are asked to write. I teach them all kinds of formatting styles, too, and isn’t it great that I know all the intricacies of grammar and sentence structure? But, what I really want is none of this. I want to play music, to take long forest baths, to learn how to use my new camera, to explore the world and its people. I want to volunteer for the candidate I want to see in the white house! I want to get off the hamster wheel! Let’s have a glass of wine and contemplate our escape!

    • Claudia, we are sharing a brain here. I feel exactly as you’ve said. I want to explore the world, write, hike in the forest and read intensely. It’s not that my work is not rewarding. It is. But at some point it ceases to be creative. I’m craving creativity. We need another girls weekend! Would love that!

  6. Oh gracious, Rosemarie, I’m so glad you’re all right. What a scare. I remember so well when your mom went to God. Such a devastating loss and I’m not sure you ever recover from it. With Mother’s Day imminent, I’m thinking of my mom (who died from Hodgkins), your mother, Rich’s mom, and one or two others. They are all so missed.

    I like to think you’ll be able to retire soon. You’ll love the freedom of retirement! And I 100% guarantee you’ll never be bored!

    With respect to your question, I don’t feel we have to wait for anything. That just burns brain power and energy! To live a happy and sanctified life, we must simply consecrate each moment of each day to God. I know, it sounds too easy! Haha! But I believe it with all my heart. In banal tasks and in exciting ones; in commonplace efforts as well as in those that are intriguing; in the secular and in the sacred; in every whim and vagary, caprice and disposition, grievance and irritation, accomplishment and triumph we can immerse ourselves into God. No need to wait. He is present to us at all times. We are called to be people who pray without ceasing. This becomes possible only if we give every part and parcel of our day to heaven. It is through the ordinariness of each hour that we are transformed.

    “Stand not upon the order of the going, but go at once” into the busyness of the Creator. To the extent that we accept our true purpose on earth, our lives will assume direction. The many pleats and tucks of each 24-hour day define our stance on life’s platform. The vitality of existence is no whistle-stop campaign and there’s no need to wait on the outcome of the ballot. It is only the present that matters. Victory in surrender!

    I hope I don’t sound too idealistic, Rosemarie, but I’ve thought a lot about this and I believe it to be true. Teilhard de Chardin has wonderful words that speak to Thoreau’s question: “Let us leave the surface, and without leaving the world, plunge into God.”

    You have given so much to so many, changed the lives of students at PHS, borne the concerns of others, raised three wonderful sons, and witnessed to a better world. What more could possibly be asked of you! Embrace the moment; look forward to retirement; accept the given; and throw yourself into the industry of present happiness. You don’t have to wait for anything; you are infused with readiness!

    I will be thinking of you Sunday and keeping you in prayer. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day because you deserve it! Love you, my friend.

    • Kathy, I feel like I’ve been infused with a spiritual boost! Yes. I agree with all you have said. Until I transition out of this job I am very much attempting to squeeze joy and fulfillment out of every hour. I had a friend who used to refer to waiting as “waiting energy”. It is totally unproductive.

      “Let us leave the surface, and without leaving the world, plunge into God.”
      Love this!! Love you, Kathy.

      • Rosemarie, if I lived closer to you it would be fun to go see Poms together! Diane Keaton. Saw an ad for the movie on TV this morning and it looks hilarious!

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