Saturday, May 10, 2014

How do you live your life?

I've been thinking a lot the last couple of days about how we live our lives. Someone once said to me that I acted as though I expected something wonderful to happen any minute--and in my life so many wonderful things have happened that I guess my expectations are justified. I have a good friend who has been ill for several years and has gradually withdrawn into herself, staying home, allowing select people into her life but very few of them. I have feared for some time she suffered from major depression as well as the diseases that beset her. But for along time invitations to lunch or dinner have been accepted and then declined at the last minute--she forgot, or she didn't feel well enough. Attempts to suggest that getting out of the house would make her feel better were met with, "I suppose you're right" but no action followed.
I know another woman, an author, who has a diagnosis of an extremely viral kind of cancer, yet she has produced two books since that diagnosis, is all over Facebook and other social media sites, runs a happy household with her husband and three children, and holds down a full-time job. Sometimes when we correspond she's forthright about her uncertain future, but mostly she's upbeat, full of plans, bubbling with joy at her life and her recent writing success. What she almost never mentions is the days she's so sick from chemo she can hardly raise her head. She gets over them and goes on with life. I have great admiration for her--and she's half my age. Well, almost.
None of us can walk in another person's moccasins, and we don't know how we'd react to circumstances such as dire illness. I for one am lucky that at 75, I am beset only by problems mostly managed by medication and the minor aches and pains of aging--a tremor in my left hand, a slight insecurity sometimes when I walk across difficult terrain--but I am basically healthy and happy. I don't know what 'd do if confronted with a life-threatening diagnosis or a shortened life expectancy. But I like to think I'd rush out and do all the things I enjoy--being with family, eating out with friends, cooking for family and friends, as long as I was able.
There's an old saw that appears on Facebook frequently, and now I can't think exactly how it goes but in essence it says happiness is not something you seek from the outside; it's something you find within yourself. And I think research about the relationship between health and happiness is well established.
But I ache and cry for my friend who is so miserable. I guess we all live our lives to our style, and we can't enforce that style on others. So it would do not good now to shake her and say I told you to get out of this house. I can only pray for comfort for her.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

None of know when our life will end--so my philosophy is do what you love until you no longer can. Works for this 80 year old. Plus I'm thankful for all my blessings--and I have many.

Sandra de Helen said...

As a person who frequently has to cancel plans due to illness, I can relate to your friend. I've given up most of the friends I used to have because they do not understand. Oh, they understand a few times, but then they become frustrated (of course). It's easier in the long run to not make plans than to disappoint people repeatedly. Even so, I'm happy on my good days, and I'm productive too. People who can be spontaneous and get together for a walk, or coffee, for an hour or so, those are the people who see me the most.

judyalter said...

Sandra, I understand about good days and bad, and I'm so glad you get out and enjoy friends on your good days. I didn't mean to sound harsh--I'm always open to the last-minute this a friend who can't schedule because of health. Marilyn, I too am thankful for my many blessings...and I'm not that far behind you in age (though way behind in grand- and great-grandchildren.