Saturday, February 26, 2005

Of Leases and Mountains

There is a story which is mostly Cuppa's to tell, and I have no doubt that she will tell it fully and leave my pithy account in the dust. I also harbour little doubt that I will tell my part more promptly and in more condensed form than she. We all have our own styles after all. Not to ruin her account, but as soon as I hint around the edges, of course, you'll have a basic understanding of what has been going on.

To wit: there has been a health alert in the family, and for the past two weeks we have been waiting to have a second test taken, the results gathered, and those results to be forwarded to our GP. The revelatory appointment was scheduled for yesterday afternoon, but we waited on tenterhooks throughout the day for affirmation that the report would be delivered. Would they get the results in time for our scheduled appointment, or would we be doomed to remain on squirming on tenterhooks for the weekend?

The official paperwork never did find its way to the GP's, but his nurse/receptionist was able to tap into the report via computer. We kept the appointment; fate smiled for the second time in just over a year; the results were negative. Of course I sternly reprimanded Cuppa for putting me through this emotional wringer yet again and entreated her to cease and desist such enervating behaviour.

Before we left for the appointment, I gave her a hug and told her, "We're in this together. Always!" We hugged; I choked and sniffled. It seems that I am usually pretty brave and stoic until it is time to finally turn the handle, open the door, and take that first step towards the rendering of the ultimate verdict. Then I tend to crumble a bit. However, I soon regained my equanimity and told Cuppa that I would be fine — fine in the sense that I would remain in control, at least.

Why is it that we (in this family at least) tend to be ashamed of our tears? What's wrong with tears? It's not like we've been caught with our hands up someone's knickers for goodness sakes. Even the other week, my brother-in-law choked up a bit on hearing that his son was safe after being in a minor accident. His voice wavered and halted, and he apologized. Why? Why should one apologize for being human, for possessing tenderness, for not being stoic? While it may be more the men than the ladies who are most guilty, we all do it. We all feel embarrassed, turn our heads, and grip resolutely for control.

As I have already declared, the best possible scenario unfolded, and we soon found ourselves sitting in the sanctum of utter Canadian soul comfort, the coffee/donut shop that is Tim Horton's — you poor Americans don't know what you're missing. Cuppa opined that she felt as though she had a new lease on life. Of course, she does, but it's only a lease, isn't it? The sand drains out of the hour glass. One hopes for as much sand as possible, but the sand will always drain. It is a lease. We don't own our mortality. That remains in The Universe's hands.

We do own our minds, however. We are accountable for our time, however. We are accountable for our values, however. We are accountable for our attitudes, however. We are accountable for how we embrace the moments that are today.

Both Cuppa and I believe in and blog about living in the moment. Truly, all we have is today. That becomes more and more apparent as time performs its relentless march. It becomes more and more apparent as we begin to face these crisis moments. On one of these occasions, be it tomorrow or several decades hence, the doctor will not wave the celebratory All Clear flag. He will sit with stern look, deliver the verdict, and offer a course of painful but scant hope or a promise to make us as comfortable as possible.

Here's the thing. We, both of us, believe that life is lived today, not in the fears and shadows or even in the hopes of tomorrows that may never come to pass. We, both of us, believe that the simple things are the best things. We, both of us, believe that happiness is a choice. However, we are human and we, both of us, must permit ourselves to pause and grieve and catch our breath when life socks us a vicious punch to the jaw that staggers us and requires a mandatory standing-eight count. Yes, there has been some grief and mourning lately over that which could have possibly come to pass, for that is human and a necessary passage that we cannot, in our human frailty, circumvent.

I like to think, however, that if the fates had dealt the black ace, that if we had been put on notice that a struggle for life lay ahead, that, once the shock had passed, we would have chosen to remain faithful to our convictions. I hope that we would have continued to steal delight from the simple but happy snatches that life offers us all, that we would have lived in the joy of shared moments and not the dread of the looming mountainous shadows.

I think we fear the mountains too much. I have been to Canada's Rockies, and they are indeed powerful and immutable bastions that shall not be moved. They cast long shadows that dwarf our puniness. But I have not just been mesmerized by their brooding power, for I have also seen incomparable and incomprehensible beauty there. I have seen the sunlit peaks, the aqua-marine opacity of glacial-fed lakes, the energetically bubbling streams, the majestic falls, the verdant pines, and the mighty rocky heights.

We offer thanks for the new lease and the fact that the mountains' shadows have not yet claimed us. Until the lease expires, until the mountains loom, we will endeavour to live life to the full here on the plains. When our expiry date becomes imminent, when the mountains beckon, I trust that we will sometimes be able to glimpse the beauty that lies within and under those craggy, old peaks.

Peyto Lake in the Canadian Rockies near Banff 2000



Iona said...

Strong entry. Made me stop and think about my life for a moment, which is good. Thanks :)
Great picture too. I just love the mountains. They make you seem so small and insignificant...

-epm said...

Mmmm... Tim Hortons... Soup, sandwich and a cruller.

Er, I mean, I'm happy to hear Cuppa failed the test... may she continue to be a pathetic failure in future tests :)

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to find my wife and give her a hug...

writersblock said...


I can only imagine that you had tears streaming down your face as you wrote that post. There are so many well spoken words....

"We're in this together..."

" It seems that I am usually pretty brave and stoic until it is time to finally turn the handle, open the door, and take that first step towards the rendering of the ultimate verdict."

Are you really? Or do you worry and replay every scenerio in your head, until you think you have prepared yourself for any eventuality, only to find you haven't?

There is nothing wrong with tears but that is the opinion of someone who cries all the time...although, there is not necessarily anything wrong with being "caught" with a hand in someone's knickers either....

"We do own our minds, however. We are accountable for our time, however. We are accountable for our values, however. We are accountable for our attitudes, however. We are accountable for how we embrace the moments that are today." - I couldn't agree more.

Love how you tied the Rockies in, I feel strangely patriotic now and will post my Peyto Lake photograph tomorrow.

I'm glad you are feeling reliived. I was just about to start another blog so you could help me reformat it.

Take care you two.

writersblock said...

Your mountain picture is nicer than mine. I didn't have sunny skies, but the clouds give some depths I suppose.

Christi said...

I always try my best to live life to its fullest, and to enjoy the moments now. I have a lot of work to do, though.

I thought it was interesting what you said about the whole afraid to show feelings thing. I guess I was raised that way, b/c I am not good at letting people know when something upsets me. It has worked well in my profession as a teacher, as students tend to try to push your buttons just to see you get upset. However, in my real life I would like to show more emotion. I asked my husband one day why he never lets me know how he feels about anything. He said it's b/c I would laugh at him. I told him I would never do that. Then, half an hour later he said something to that effect, and I laughed at him! Wonder why I do that?

blue2go said...

The illness or death (or even the potential of it) of someone close to you can really make you think about your life. I was raised under the "Quit crying or I'll really give you something to cry about!" school of child rearing. We simply weren't allowed to show our feelings openly. I have gone so far to the opposite side that it embarrasses my family. I give hugs too, which they seem to like but don't ever initiate. I want to grab life and live it to the fullest. Even if it means getting disappointed once in awhile. Anything less is not really living, in my book. My book is all about living!

Doris said...

One of your most beautiful and moving blogs. Very apropos for me as all my Dad's sand has almost gone through the hourglass.

Regarding tears: I was apologizing for mine to the vet who was about to put my cat out of his misery many years ago, and he said "let yourself go". He gave me several quiet moments with my cat and I cried profusely. I will never forget his kindness; lately I cry very easily - the other day I came close to crying while looking at an apple. It was the most beautiful, pleasing colour and absolutely perfect! I cry joyful tears when observing beauty.

Just a side note: have you ever noticed how parents laugh in an embarassed manner when their young child is crying? I see it over and over again and it is damaging to the child. We really need a course in how to react in a supportive manner to tears and to not suppress our own tears.

Life's Laundry said...

I needed these words and thoughts today.
Regarding the tears and why? I'm leaving a gift for you on my blog. Something that someone gifted to me a while back and I'd like to pass it to you too.

Norma said...

Thanks for sharing and reminding us about what is important.

And, we do have Tim Hortons here.

Gina said...

Lovely post! I am glad that you and your wife received good news. Also, I love that you have "expounded" on the comments, it makes what I am writing seem so much more wise than it really is!

One of the things I love the most about my husband is his ability to shed tears and not be the least bit ashamed about it. He even cried watching "Mr. Holland's Opus" which should tell you that he is just unable to hold back.