Are you a busy person who feels like you always have to run after deadlines? And do you feel that no matter how much time you spend working, there’s always still so much to be done to accomplish your goals?
I’ve considered myself to be a very busy person too. My “to-do” list has been my best friend and my motto has always been, “If only I had the time…”
However, time suddenly paused when I found out I had a cyst and I had to undergo a surgery. Since then, time has sloooooowed down. I’m still stuck at home recovering from my exploratory laparotomy. Now, I have all the time to ponder over some important life-lessons I’ve taken for-granted. Let me share three of them with you.
1. Prepare for the unexpected (or even prevent it).
I used to think that the unexpected is precisely unexpected, which is why we can never be prepared for it. My experience led me to realize that yes, we can never be fully prepared for the unexpected, but somehow, we can develop different capacities and cultivate some resources that can help us deal with what comes our way.
After the doctors told me that my husband and I that I had a tumor, my husband sighed, “All the while we thought you were healthy.” I must admit that I didn’t really pay much attention to my health. I didn’t go for a check-up when I first noticed the lump in my abdomen. I just neglected it until it suddenly hurt. Luckily, I did eat and exercise as regularly as I could, so the cardiologist easily gave me a go signal for the surgery because he felt confident that my heart could manage it.
Be prepared for life by also paying attention to your body. You only have one. Instead of saying, “Mind over matter,” say, “Both mind and body matter.” After all, you’ll need both to face whatever comes your way.
2. Real strength cannot come from pride.
I used to equate strength with the capacity to do difficult things and appear strong. I considered myself strong because I had stamina for work. I rode motorcycles even when people doubted whether a girl could. When people used to ask me how I was, my answer would always be “I’m okay,” even when I wasn’t. I often avoided asking for help about anything.
Shortly after the surgery, I experienced not being able to do much on my own. I had to rely on colleagues to cover for me. Riding the motorcycle was prohibited by the doctor for 6 months; but I could hardly complain, because just walking was already difficult for me. I couldn’t even hide behind “I’m okay” because the lie would be too obvious. I needed help with almost everything. Soon enough, I found myself sulking and crying. Losing control and needing help was too much for me. I felt so weak and helpless. I began feeling ashamed and sorry for myself.
Then, I realized, it was my pride that was stopping me from being the strong person I needed to be in order to keep myself together while in a difficult situation. I was too attached to a rigid notion of strength that set unfair expectations upon myself.
Jessi J says, “It’s okay not to be okay.” But it’s not easy to admit that you’re not okay. Real strength requires humility. Humility that enables a person to be open to others who are willing to help, and to be accepting of oneself even in times of weakness. Strength that comes from humility is the one the leads to healing and produces excitement for life again. A strong person is someone who is not ashamed to cry.
So, go ahead and cry and admit it to yourself when you are not alright. It is by listening to ourselves and loving ourselves no matter what that we can eventually find the strength to wipe our tears as we find more profound reasons to smile again.
3. Take time to say “I love you” when you mean it.
As I mentioned in my other post, Surgery Story, my husband told me that he loved me right before I was brought to the operating room. I wasn’t able to reply because…I don’t know…I was trying to be strong and unemotional. I wanted to keep my composure while I was preoccupied with what was about to happen. He later asked me why I didn’t respond.
Now, as I look back, I see a moment that meant so much for the person I love. If only I could go back to that very moment, I would have told him that I loved him too. It would just have taken me a few seconds to console him and create a good lasting memory.
I’m just glad that I am now out of the hospital and my husband and I still have more opportunities to say, “I love you.” I am determined to live knowing that every moment has the potential to be a precious part of life.
Don’t take the minutes that go by for granted. Each encounter with a loved one is an opportunity to create a lasting memory. So, make it count.