I stood at the River’s banks.  Usually after I had coffee and sometimes breakfast at the local diner on the way home I would stop at the bank of the River and gaze out at the surface of the water and the mountains.  I never spent a long time there.

It has been several months since I was at this spot.  The wind was blowing on the surface of water stirring it up.  It was not too cold and not too warm.  Rain clouds were in the distance.

Fall had come.  There was a slight chill in the air although I really wasn’t cold yet.  Coming here is always like entering another world.  Sure I often pass the River from a distance but peering out from its shore is always a different experience.

Too much time had passed from my last visit.  Now I no longer wanted to be here.  It was a little uncomfortable although it still was a mild sixty-two degrees.  I knew I would now only view the River from a distance until it got warmer again.

There was some regret:  too much time had passed since my last visit.  I had missed too much.  Its face is always different:  The lighting is always different on the sky, water and mountains and trees.  Every visit.  I now will await the warmer weather.

Coveting is always wrong.  There is a reason one of the ten commandments was ‘Thou shall not covet’.  The truth is everybody has something that someone does not have.  Some people have less and some people have more.  Poverty has always existed through the ages.

Be thankful for what you have.  Then it no longer matters what someone does not have.  View all your possessions with a spirit of gratitude.  If the truth be known, what you have is only on loan.

If you can be thankful for what you have you will have peace of mind, which is priceless.  So guard against covetousness.  The world is full of good things.  Accept what you have and thank God for it.  You will sleep easier at night.

All There Is, Is Today

Author: siggy

All there is, is today.  It is so easy to be distracted.  Life is full of distractions.  When your life is ebbing away, you wish there was more.  There is only today.

Sometimes the days seem endless and that is only an illusion.  Make the best of every dawn that you face.  And when the dusk appears, rest peacefully when you have made the most of the preceding day.

That is why there has to be empty spaces in every day.  Somehow you have to stop your frenetic activity and look at your past, examine the future and live fully in the present.

There is only one go of it.  Do not regret you have wasted, squandered the most valuable possession you have–your time.

So slow down periodically, welcome the empty spaces.  It is an opportunity to examine your life and truly do what matters the most.  It is too easy to imagine there will always be another day.  ‘Life is but a vapor’ in the words of King Solomon who had it all.  So think about it.

People routinely ask you how you are doing and you respond, “Okay.”  Okay sometimes is not just an automatic response.  Sometimes it means whatever you are going through you are dealing adequately with it.

Sure we don’t respond to how we are doing and tell every person who asks all of our problems.  The truth is most people are not interested and do not want to hear all our difficulties we are going through.  And we should not burden every Tom, Dick and Harry we meet with them.

But sometimes okay is just that:  we are doing the best with our particular situation and thanks for asking:  I am “Okay.”  And that is okay.

All I want you to do is listen, not feel sorry for me.  The prognosis was not good.  My kidney function had declined and I might have to undergo dialysis within a year.

My depression further increased when I learned only a third of the people undergoing dialysis survive five years and there was, also, a greater chance of stroke and heart disease.

Suddenly I realized I might not make it even to sixty-five.  My mortality became real.  Everyone knows that they are going to die eventually but act as if death will never come and when it does others act surprised and think it is a terrible thing.

I wanted to talk openly about this latest development but I felt odd bringing it up with certain loved ones and friends.  Death has become a taboo.  It is not discussed openly in our society.

I did not want sympathy.  I did not want others to feel sorry for me.  Instinctively I knew who I could not discuss my situation with.  I felt odd with them.

With those people when they ask me how I am doing, I just say “fine.”  I really wanted someone to listen, to be able to share my fears–my fears of hopelessness, of being in pain and discomfiture, dependent on others, afraid of losing my mental facilities.

I just wanted to go out in grace and peace.  Death was knocking.  There are no certainties.  It just did not look good.  I will grab every bit of control I can in my situation.  I just did not want to do it alone.

Why do we care so much about things?!  You can not take your material possessions with you when your time comes.  It says in the Bible ‘from dust you come and to dust you shall return’.

I am as guilty as anyone of this.  My music, my writings and journals and books are far too important to me.  Yet when my appointed hour comes, I can no longer hang on to any of these things.

Why do we act as if we can take our possessions with us when we die?  We try up till the last moment to retain some control of our most valuable possessions.  We make wills.

The fact still remains we can’t take them with us.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in the things that really have more lasting effects?  Wouldn’t it make more sense to invest time while you are on earth in relationships–your immediate family, your friends, your kids?

Once you are gone all people have are their memories of you, the love and care you have demonstrated toward them.  You can have far reaching effects if you have invested time and love in others while you were on this earth.  People you have loved have memories of you long after you are gone.

Far too many people do not invest time in others.  They spend their whole life in accumulating things.  No one remembers how hard you worked in your lifetime.  They remember the love you have demonstrated toward them.  So before it is too late, do something about it.  Examine your priorities.  You have one life.

I made several discoveries around the house.  The first one was a toad was living in a crack in front of the door.  He was no small toad–at least two inches wide.  I only saw him once in front of my door but I saw him disappear into the crack on the bottom.

It was magical:  he just tucked himself into the crack and was immediately gone from my view.  Since then I have kept my eyes open for him but did not see him again.

In back of my house, which was allowed this year to grow wild, was a patch of flowers I have often seen.  I knew it was a common weed:  a little white flower that looked like a tiny daisy.  I was amazed:  There must have been hundreds of those flowers in that big patch.

For months every time I stepped out the front door I would occasionally glance look at that tiny bird nest two inches in diameter resting on the nearby ledge.  I would be awed that a hummingbird could build such an perfectly round edifice.

I found the nest in the middle of the road nearby.  It must have fallen from an overhanging branch.  Every time I looked at that nest my breath would be taken away momentarily.

Another plant I never paid much attention was goldenrod.  For a long time I would mistakenly call another yellow flower goldenrod although goldenrod comes out later in the season.  My wife finally told me the proper name of that spring flower.

When I was walking my dog around my block, which is almost a mile around, I discovered there were acres of goldenrod in the gigantic meadow I passed.  I also found several patches of it around our property.  It was as if I was seeing goldenrod for the first time this year.  These were just a few discoveries I made.

I want to add something positive to the people the Lord puts in my life.  That is how I am driven:  I want to encourage others.  That is my mission.  Sometimes I forget it but I keep returning to that.

If I can only focus on that, I will be doing God’s will.  I can not tell you what your mission is but that is mine.  No matter how much or how little time I have I will focus on that.

If the truth be told no on knows how much time he/she has been given on this earth.  If I can continue to focus on my mission, I will be fine.

Even if I only can only do small things that would be fine.  Isn’t life composed of many small things?  The big things only come along once in awhile, so I will not stop doing whatever I can to encourage and inspire others around me even if they are only small things.

Do little things with much love:  a paraphrase of Mother Teresa.  People never forget the kindnesses bestowed on them.  Others always remember how you made them feel.

The news from my nephrologist was not good:  within a year I might be undergoing dialysis.  One prognosis for patients undergoing dialysis is only a third survive beyond five years.  Your chances of developing heart problems and strokes are greatly increased, also.

If my prognosis is that bad, I am determined to use my remaining time as best as I can.  I am no longer going to spend my time on things that really do not matter.

My wife and I considered putting our affairs in order.  It is time to make a will.  No one knows for sure how long they will have on this earth.  One thing is for certain every person will die but no one wants to talk about it.  It is the final taboo.

I am going to reexamine my life and truly do only what matters to me.  I know now I do not have forever.  The handwriting is on the wall.

Death Is The Last Taboo

Author: siggy

I felt odd discussing my health situation:  I went to my nephrologist (a kidney doctor) for the second time.  The report of my condition was worst than I thought:  my kidney function was down to twenty per cent and my doctor in the next visit was going to discuss  putting me in dialysis.  It takes six to twelve months to put into motion.

I started to mull over what this meant.  A loss of my freedom.  I could not easily go away.  I had dreamed for forty years to travel to San Francisco maybe even by train (I loved train rides).  I would visit my sister whose house I had never seen and my brother-in-law who I have never met.  This would be almost impossible to do once I started dialysis.  I could at most go away for a day or two at a time.

I was reeling from this news.  I did not want to bear it alone.  Sharing it with others meant reminding them of their own mortality.  And death was the last taboo so I could not discuss my situation so easily with others.  I felt all alone.

Time all of a sudden became very valuable.  I did have a window.  I am going to take the trip that I dreamed to take for most of my life before I start my dialysis.  You only live once.

I want to grow old gracefully.  That is a choice I can make.  I used to tell my Mom after she used to complain again about her fading health, “Parts of your body when you get older just don’t work right.”  She has been dead seven years and lived until eighty.  She did not like hearing that.

I am not as old as she was when she died.  I am sixty-one now.  Even at this age I can tell you parts already do not work perfectly anymore.

I do not want to rant and rail as I get older.  I pray to the Lord above that I can accept my limitations as I get older and do not complain and center on the things that I can do.

I do not want to become bitter as I age and my body breaks down.  I know human beings go through a cycle:  first they are dependent as babies, then become independent and finally as they age become dependent on others again.

Hopefully I will become wiser as I age and not complain because I have grown older and no longer can do certain things physically.  I am praying that as I age I can accept my limitations.  I want to grow old gracefully and not bore others with my ailments.  Everyone has them.

I really do not understand why your own death is so hard to contemplate.  At some point everyone knows that we will live not live forever but we act as if death is a failure and is a great thing that should not happen.

Just look at the reaction of the public when someone famous and young dies suddenly.  How could have this happened everyone wonders.  Yet we know we have no way to know the timing of our own death.  Sometimes it happens at the end of the struggle at the end of a long illness or simply due to old age:  our bodies just wore out.

Sometimes death occurs quickly and totally unexpected perhaps due to a accident or unexpected fatal occurrence.  No one wants to discuss their own impending death.  And even after it occurs others often act as if it was a great curse.

Death really makes your life much sweeter.  It forces you to consider your life choices more carefully.  Just think how horrible it would be if each person knew they would live forever.

The knowledge your life is finite forces you to consider carefully the steps and decisions you are going to make, the people you choose to spend time with, your career.  We only get one time around.

Death has become a great taboo and has become really impersonal.  Far more people today die in hospitals.  And when that occurs, the supporting staff just sweeps your body away as if you were never there.

No one wants to die alone.  The impersonal nature of death has led to the hospice movement which tries to restore dignity to your impending death.

It was not needed several decades ago when most people died at home usually surrounded by their loved ones.  No one wants to die alone.

Death is really natural.  It happens to every one.  The sooner you can realize that the more precious the time on this earth becomes.  This realization causes you to make your life more meaningful.  As I said earlier you only go around once, so make the best of it.