Saturday, October 22, 2011
"Almost everything -- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
October has been a crazy month. I've still been keeping up with my letters (over 100!), but have been having a harder time keeping up with the blog.
One of the things I love about writing the letters is that I never quite know what's going to come out - and it often has to do with whatever is happening at that time. This week, though, I stuck to writing letters that weren't necessarily related to what was going on, because I was not ready to write about it.
My dad came very close to dying last weekend. We had slept over the night before, and were out walking Rocky in the morning. As we approached the driveway on our way home, we found him sitting on the curb, which was odd. "Hey Grandpa!" we said as we approached (Rocky is his granddog :), and he said "We had an accident." It turned out that his bicycle brakes had failed at the top of their steep, long driveway, and he'd lost control at the end and literally flown like a missile head-first into a brick wall, probably at a speed of over 30 miles per hour. Miraculously, he could get up, and nothing appeared to be broken. He went back home (in the car), took a shower, and my mom drove him to the hospital.
Turns out, he broke his neck - he had fractured two cervical vertebrae, C1 & C2, which as far as vertebrae go, are pretty dangerous ones to brake. So not only was it a miracle that he was alive, but it was even more of a miracle that he could walk and still had full movement! He must have hit that wall at "the perfect angle".
He spent 4 days in the hospital as they monitored and stabilized him. He's in a neck brace now, one that he'll have to wear for 8-12 weeks. He needs to take it easy, but he's back home and walking around the house. All things considered, he's feeling pretty good, and we're all feeling extremely, tremendously lucky.
This weekend my brother came home and we're all hanging out together as a family, which is very nice.
I have a computer program called Stillness Buddy that is based on Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings. It greets you everyday when you turn on the computer and gives you mindfulness pauses throughout the day. Often, when I turn it on, it says, "You are alive! Today is a new day. What a precious gift!" I feel like at times like these, we are reminded of this, but as my dad said, about a week later we forget again. I want to commit myself to trying to remember. It's like that quote that Steve Jobs said he read that really impacted his life - I can't find the exact quote, but it's something along the lines of live everyday like it's your last. Remember that everyday is a precious gift.
Steve Jobs left us with the beautiful words at the top of this page. So maybe today, ask yourself that question today: what is truly important? How can I follow my heart? Figure it out and go and do that. For me, today, that means doing yoga and hanging out with my family.
Life is short. Follow your heart and connect with someone you love today!