Not everyone gets a chance to examine their life’s journey. Sometimes it’s snatched away with no warning. The evening braai may never happen. That argument waiting to be resolved, could be suspended forever. A little deception may turn into a nightmare for the lovers left behind. A relationship that should have lasted a lifetime could be derailed by an impulse. Friendships you thought would stay forever, can fade away without warning and others unexpectedly stand the test of time.
A drunk driver can take a cyclist’s life in a split second. And there’s no turning the clock back, no matter how sorry anyone is.
Life can change course in a flash. And mine has…a number of times. It’s a rare gift to be able to stop, look at where you are heading and make a detour – take that road less travelled. So in a way, cancer has given me this. It’s not a present I wanted or that I would wish for anyone else. But the truth is that everything I have created so far, is now staring me in the face. Some of it I’m very proud of and would recreate in a heartbeat. But there are wasted opportunities and senseless decisions that I’m not proud of and would give anything to change.
Wouldn’t you like to turn the clock back and have a second chance at some things? I certainly would. Sadly, I can’t. But now I have the opportunity to make amends or at least not repeat my mistakes. I made an art of underachieving at school and university. It was easier. That way I never failed. Well mostly not anyway. I did fail Journalism One, twice. What can I say? Too young, too flighty, a deer in the headlights… Do I regret it? Yes. But then again, that extra year at Rhodes led me down an unexpected path, one I will treasure for the rest of my life.
I have stopped looking back so much. I’ve also stopped looking too far into the future. I do think up exciting adventures of course, but my point of focus is the present moment. And that’s brought me immense joy. Cancer and the Corona Virus have honed my perception of things. What I’m feeling at any given time, is clearer to me. I’ve always stopped to smell the roses, but these days I linger for even longer and drink in the beauty that surrounds us. I want to plant seeds that will sprout in the spring. Eating from my own veggie patch has become a delight. Noticing what agrees with my body is much clearer now. A third glass of bubbly and some mint chocolate was a very bad idea last night. Yes, I am on my week’s Xeloda holiday. No, the over indulgence wasn’t worth it.
I can’t predict the future. But what I can do is treasure the present. A gourmet dinner and an inspiring conversation with my amazing daughter, a surprise call from an old friend in the States, daily zoom practise with a confidante, purring sessions from Archie in front of the blazing fire. Every day brings new opportunities for happiness. The trick is to see and seize them with both hands.
The winter sun is streaming in and I shift so that I can feel the warmth on my skin. Archie is calling from his counter in the kitchen. It’s a few hours since his last treat and hunting is on hold due to the weather. Xena has taken her spot on the dining room carpet. Hide and seek is her favourite game and she knows I’ll remember to play. There are enough yummy left overs in the fridge and who knows when I’ll have the opportunity to spoil them again?
The time is now. It’s all we can be sure of…