My life stopped about a month and a half ago. Everything was normal before it happened. I mean 100% business as usual. I was going about my typical days and then it all came crashing down on me.
I had a lot going on, that’s for sure. I was a month out from announcing my biggest and most exciting project of the year (click that link. It’s a big deal). And my wife and I were a month and a half out from welcoming our firstborn into the world — the kind of event that you’ll never feel prepared for.
And then, on an idle Tuesday evening, on a walk with my dog, I started to feel a bit ill.
The next few days and multiple doctor visits culminated in an emergency surgery to correct an intestinal issue.
After a few days in the hospital, I was home. And after a few days at home, I was back in the hospital with serious complications.
I spent 14 days and 13 nights in the hospital.
And there was no way to see it coming. In a snap of my fingers, weeks of life were gone.
Whether it be a health issue, sudden job loss, or something else — sometimes life demands that you stop and make changes.
I had big dreams for this month, and I’m working hard to meet the deadlines, but there’s a balance that I’m learning. On one side we have hard work and hustle, and on the other side we have self-care, rest, and recovery.
Right now I need both, and it’s tough to know how to get them.
How do you respond when life demands that you stop?
While in the hospital I had a tube running in my nose and down to my stomach. It hurt to swallow and kept me from being able to speak at more than a whisper for much of my stay. It was painful.
A friend came to see me and we talked (quietly) about how hard things were and how there was no end in sight.
I said, “I don’t know how we’ve made it this far, and I don’t know how I’m still going.”
She replied with a smile, “It’s all that mindfulness shit that you do.”
I couldn’t help but smile. She was right.
There was so much that was well beyond my control and so little I was able to change. I couldn’t fix myself. I couldn’t even get out of bed without help. I felt powerless.
Even when everything is out of your control, you can still choose how you respond.
As bad as everything was, I still had one choice. And that’s at the core of what it means to live mindfully. Mindfulness breaks the cycle of stimuli → response. It becomes stimuli → choice → response.
And that makes all the difference.
I’ve learned, and I’m continuing to learn that while life may throw curveballs at us, and things may fall apart, and you may suddenly have to spend 14 days in the hospital, and all your deadlines may become moot-points, and your dog may have to lose her leg, and your relationship may fall apart, and loved ones may pass away, and disasters may come, and everything else bad happens— you can still choose how to respond.
In the comments, I’d love to hear if you’ve ever been through a similar experience or otherwise had the wind knocked out of your sails. How did you choose to respond? How did you recover from it?
PS- Now that I’m back to work, I can’t help but tell you about the Calling Course. It is the most effective tool out there for finding your purpose and direction. If you’re asking questions meaning in life and work, I made this for you. I can’t wait for you to be a part of it.
PPS- This just in: I’m a dad! Our son was born last week and is the coolest kiddo on the block!