After all is said and done

sunset highway
Image courtesy of Unsplash

“You are going to die,” kiddo announced rather matter-of-fact the other night as I helped him get ready for bed.

I see. It was time for one of those talks. “Yes, I am,” I answered, “but hopefully not anytime soon.”

“I am going to live forever,” he replied, “because I eat healthy foods.”

“So do I kiddo, or at least I try.” Okay, so I don’t try quite as hard as he does. Kiddo has always eaten more healthy than I do. The only craving I had while pregnant with him was for tilapia and asparagus and now his favorite meal is salad with a balsamic glaze and a side of strawberries. My six-year-old is a bit of an odd child at times.

“Then why are you going to die?”

“Because that’s what happens when you get older.” Preferably much, much older, but unfortunately you can’t ever quite count on time. Earlier this year a friend was diagnosed with a terminal illness which has now progressed beyond treatment. It doesn’t matter that she is only five years older than me or that one of her sons is near the same age as mine. Her illness neither cares about her age or her children’s.

As I hug my children tighter, I wish that we didn’t need such stark reminders that every moment is precious.

Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.~Chinese Proverb

I love TED talks and was recently reminded of a question posed by David Brooks of the New York Times, who asked in his “Should you live for your resume…, or your eulogy?” In it he mentions that most people when asked, reply that they place a higher value on the virtues they hope their friends and family cite during their eulogy over the accomplishments of their resume. Put differently, when your time comes, do you want your family to announce that you streamlined processes by 85% while meeting and/or exceeding performance goals, or that you never missed a tee-ball game? And yet, the resume accomplishments are what we focus on.

“Why is it we want so badly to memorialize ourselves? Even while we’re still alive. We wish to assert our existence, like dogs peeing on fire hydrants.”
― Margaret Atwood, Der blinde Mörder

When I began writing, I will admit a driving force was the knowledge that when I was done, I would have something tangible on the shelf with my name on it. I put in the work to prove to myself I had what it takes. Proud as I was of my accomplishment, I gave one of those early copies to the woman who watches LT during the day. She flipped through the pages and saw my children’s names in black and white. “You’ve given them a great gift.”

As we talked, I realized she meant I had given them more than just a thing to remember me by. I had ensured that some small piece of them would be remembered too.

“When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation.” ― Jorge Luis Borges

I like to think I am teaching my boys resilience, determination, and the importance of hard work, but maybe just maybe when all is said and done I’ve taught them to dream big, and yet to never forget the value of the small everyday. If I can do that, what other accomplishment do I need?

“The life given us, by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

As luck would have it, we are here

Earth as seen from Mars
Earth as seen from Mars
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Texas A&M

Here’s a fun fact to share at your next social gathering: a Martian year is almost exactly twice as long as an Earth year. This means that unless those intrepid explorers volunteering for a one-way trip get creative with their month names, they will spend two of our Januarys, Julys, and Decembers during their new home’s single orbit around the sun.

What they are setting out to do is fairly inspiring, but if their April was anything like mine, I feel sorry for them already. It wasn’t a month I’d like to repeat.

As much as I was trying to stay upbeat (at least once a week), April did its best to knock me down. LT was suffering and I couldn’t do a thing about it. A number of things at work contributed toward my first undeniable gray hair (no, definitely not a result of my getting older). To cope, I wrote a piece about poop, which even included cussing (my blog’s PG rating be darned).

It wasn’t sure about the piece, but as my deadline approached, I was procrastinating still seeking inspiration for something better. I read a number of my next door neighbor’s status updates on Facebook. Several years ago he had visited Nepal and was superimposing his recollections of the place with news stories about the earthquake. The images of the temples reminded me of my time at the Big Buddha in Hong Kong. The updates, however, made me rethink my problems. I was still going to be able to recover from the day’s stress in the comfort of my bed. I was still able to hold my son and tell him with near certainty that things would get better. Ah, perspective.

I left the poop piece in my drafts folder (you never know when you might be in desperate need of content), and published the Stairway piece instead. As luck would have it, the next week I received word that my blog had been nominated for the Premio Dardos Award.

There are a number of blog awards that float around, awarded from one blogger to another. While they rarely have monetary value or bring you international pop-star status overnight (we really need to work on that), they are a nice way of telling your peers that their work has been noticed and is valued. I immediately looked up what this award was all about.

The Premio Dardos Award is given to bloggers who transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values in the form of creative and original writing.

Premio Dardos Award
Someone likes me! They really like me!

I am honored, I am humbled, I am ever so relieved I left the poop piece in the slush pile. Hmmm, I really should consider giving my blog’s content editor a raise. In fact, I will do just that. Allie, look for an additional 5% in your next paycheck!

Next, I would like to thank Antiqua A La Carte for the nomination. This site, featuring stories of life beyond the beaches of the Caribbean has been my go-to escape for cloudy days (and even some sunny days as well). I now know exactly who to call if I am ever considering trying out island life.

Now onto my nominations. Drum roll, please. They are, in alphabetical order:

Alana Munro – The Author who supports: As advertised, this site is about supporting other writers, but has also helped open my eyes to the underlying reasons behind the Scottish Independence movement.

JT Twissel: A site that has articles spanning from world travel to at-risk foster children, but still finds a way to inject humor into even the heaviest topics.

Mark My Words: Officially this is a site about the Pacific Northwest, but could just as easily be described as a site about treating yourself as you deserve to be treated whether it is diet, relationships or simply better-enjoying life.

Tastehitch: This is a hilarious site by a British ex-patriot with a fondness for food and travel, attempting to survive the early years of parenthood in a foreign land.

Yadadarcyyada – Vague Meanderings of the Broke and Obscure: A site that is very much about being true to one’s self and is filled with amusing images and several articles sharing titles with songs that routinely get stuck in my head.