Get Out Of Your Own Way

I guess I’d have to admit that my all-time favorite fortune cookie was actually a typo, stating that I would have mang children.  What on Earth are mang children and how did I get selected by the fortune cookie industry to have them?  In any case, it’s given me the giggles mang times over the years, and for that I am grateful on this Thanksgiving eve.

But that’s not all for which I am grateful.  My second favorite fortune cookie suggested that if I thought life was too difficult, then perhaps I was taking myself too seriously.  The word “perhaps” makes all the difference, doesn’t it?  It suggests, rather than mandates.  It provides for choice. Well then, perhaps Ishould choose to consider that I am taking myself too seriously?

It’s not that life doesn’t give us difficulties, challenges, but so much of our muck is a loss of perspective, and not consciously choosing our response.

My friend Gary Hales was dying of cancer several years ago.  I do believe I learned more about living through this man’s dying process than any other source.  Anyone who knew him knew what pure joy in living looked like.  He was about the most irreverent person I ever knew, and yet wise beyond description.  He had been in remission for ten years, and in his words, “remission, dear, reminds us that every day is gravy.  How can you not enjoy”?  And he did savor.  Even in his most extraordinarily difficult last few months, when he had lost most fine motor coordination (including speech — talk about a reason for gratitude) he was still the funniest person I ever knew.

I went to visit him at his assisted living apartment one day at lunch.  He had managed to get himself in the shower but had fallen.  There I was, on my lunch break, realizing there’s only one choice, and so I got in the shower with him.  I was completely soaked through my clothes, he was completely without his, but not without one shred of dignity, thanks to his sense of humor, so within seconds we were laughing hysterically.  Even though his life was ending in the most profoundly difficult circumstances, he was full of joy and laughter — and mischief.

The other lesson came in the preciousness of time.  I recall being in a store with him, where the store clerks completely ignored him.  Apparently, even if you are DOCTOR Gary Hales, and editor in chief of a medical journal, you are still deemed unworthy of acknowlegement if your walk and talk are not “normal”.  I got self-rightous and pounced on the management.  Gary, as always, just twinkled, held his left arm out, pointed to his wrist with the other hand, and simply said in his new language, “don’t… have… much… time…please… don’t… waste…”  In spite of the speech problems, it worked, and within moments, the manager had comandeered a high-backed executive chair and was rolling him around the store, providing personal shopping services.  Gary just winked at me.

It’s hard to imagine more difficult life-circumstances, and yet he kept us laughing and learning til the end, and beyond.  The lessons are endless, if you’re not too self-rightous to learn.

Get out of your own way.  Perhaps yourself too seriously.  Start TODAY enjoying your precious time, by being thankful, being kind, being forgiving, and by finding the humor and joy wherever it exists.  Once you start to see it, it’s everywhere.

We have an abundance for which to be Thankful; I’ll start with the life and lessons of Dr. Gary Hales.

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