It’s a call to greatness. To become expanded in this way, to know that life is unspeakably fragile, to feel that to spend even minutes in cruise control is squandering an irreplaceable resource -- this awareness mandates an urgency -- a burn -- to create an unprecedented future.
It has become so clear that wasting time on a regular basis is an extravagance much worse than throwing billions of dollars into a bonfire. The barriers to changing established habits have been melted down in this particular experiential tunnel of fire we’re passing through.
These eight months of three open-heart surgeries, the last a heart transplant -- hour after hour, day after day of pain, uncertainty, frustration, wonder, celebration and above all gratitude -- all of this is part of the gestation of a new self -- if we allow it.
Looking behind is gone. Why review a past when we are newborns in this fresh life? There’s an unlimited view ahead with unimaginable grand vistas to explore.
I wrote this and later that day, Lee said:
“I’m in a position to save lives -- and I think it’s because of Jim Keegan. Someone will look at me someday the way I looked at Jim standing there so fit and happy two years after his heart transplant-- with renewed hope and determination. I do intend to pay it forward and help someone else to begin to trust that there’s life after dire diagnoses and extreme surgery.
Even time I spend with someone who is not in a health crises may steer him or her away from carelessness, from dwelling on what’s not right rather than what is, from small pursuits rather than great ones.”
The truth is that we are ALL in a position to save lives. We all have this same super power, but we’ve forgotten that we have it. We’ve been lulled to sleep by the demands and distractions of everyday life.
Heart transplant shook Lee awake. And me too -- just by bearing witness. However, people awake to their true potential every day without the catalyst of a life threatening event. Waking up may be accomplished by a hard “shove” like it was for us, or you may be roused by the whispers of those who are living their lives awake. We just have to seek them out and listen to their reveille. It's the call to greatness.
FINALLY AT THE TRAILHEAD….
This is what I say when Lee gets discouraged. When he’s feeling weak, when the insane medication cocktail he’s required to consume makes him gag and shake, when food continues to be completely unappealing and he’s lost another pound today -- I say, “We’re finally at the trailhead. We can’t set out yet, but it’s getting closer everyday.”
First we have to pack -- pack a few more pounds and some muscle strength on Lee. Get his medications balanced and reduced from twenty plus in the morning and almost that many before sleep. We have to wait a while yet until his body is sure about welcoming this unfamiliar heart, and we can begin to ramp down from four or five outpatient appointments a week to three a week, then one a week, then one every two weeks. It will be at this point where it will make sense to leave our Noe Valley haven and hit the road again.
We’d both love to leave today. We spend hours pouring over maps and watching videos of other people setting out on adventures in forests, canyons, caves and deserts. We have a growing wish list of supplies we’ll want to order as the time grows closer.
We spent five months not knowing whether this heart transplant odyssey would keep us locked in place for a few more weeks, a few more months or even a year or more. NOW we can almost smell the pine needles and see the sunsets on the insides of our eyelids.
We’re finally at the trailhead...
Susan is a published writer and motivational speaker with 30 years of experience, dedicated to guiding people to a life of financial invincibility and peace of mind.