None of the three incidents were life threatening, but they all required surgical procedures to set them right. His general health was good, so he made it through the surgeries well. Each time he was beyond pleased and felt blessed to get through the surgeries and begin recovery. Although he welcomed his return home, after a day or two he grew frustrated. He had some post-surgical restrictions to abide by until he’d be totally released to resume normal activity. He became an impatient patient!
He was ready to get back to living life on his terms. He didn’t want to sky dive, run a marathon, or become a kick boxer. He wanted to return to his routine. He didn’t think that was too much to ask, and when he couldn’t, his displeasure led to edginess, irritation, and anger. And when that happened, therapies designed to facilitate full recovery were hindered, support of family and friends was shown way less appreciation than it deserved, and his own best efforts were short circuited.
Each time, in spite of his less-than-admirable attitude and behavior during recovery, he made it through very well, and got back to life on his terms. In fact, his life got better each time, because his active role in it improved each time. And although he was grateful, there was a powerful lesson that he didn’t fully realize at the time.
By most any measure, his daily life, his routine, his usual, or his normal was rather simple. Being a faith-driven part of a growing, lively, supportive, accomplished, and loving family was goal one. It always had been and it always would be. Exercising, although a bit slower and not quite as much, was part of his routine. He appreciated its physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Driving was important, very important in fact. It provided the mobility that allowed him to be independent and move about when and where he pleased.
And then there were his interests. They were as numerous as they were varied. As a kid he was interested in everything, and more than seventy years later he still was. Pursuing those things that caught his eye or attracted his attention was a source of endless, captivating, and entertaining enjoyment for him.
If you had asked him about his appreciation for his role in his life and he had time to think about it, he would have told you that he was thankful to still be as engaged as he wanted to be. He may even have told you that he felt blessed beyond measure. But day to day, he seldom gave that appreciation much thought. He kind of took it for granted, unintentionally assuming that it was just the way life was supposed to be, something he deserved. That is until one routine day recently. Early on it did have some rather petty aggravations that bothered him, and that was unfortunate. Or maybe it was fortuitously fortunate, because he was reminded of a valuable life lesson on perspective.
It started when his cell phone didn’t charge through the night. A bit later when he pulled up to the drive-through window to order a breakfast sandwich he learned that they stopped serving breakfast ten minutes earlier. Miffed, he ordered nothing. Then there was the price of gas. The final straw came when an impatient driver behind him passed on a double yellow line and offered a single-finger salute. So now he was frustrated. He briefly thought of heading for home, but changed his mind. He had some shopping to do.
As he pulled into the parking lot, he saw a woman get out of her car, open up a walker, and begin making her way to the door. She was considerably his senior. She wasn’t in a handicapped spot but was instead parked very deep in the lot. As he made his way to the door, he caught up to her. They exchanged greetings. He was still feeling a bit grumpy, and she was feeling anything but. “It’s a great day to be out. I’m so happy I can still get around on my own,” she said with a smile.
He paused for a second or two, before replying with, “Yes, it is, and thanks for reminding me of that!” He quickly recalled the brief periods in his life when he couldn’t, and doing so put the little annoyances of the day in a totally new perspective. He was embarrassed.
The next time you let the little things get to you as you go through your days, remind yourself how fortunate you are to be as engaged in your life as you can be. Life and its routines are a real blessing—never take them for granted!