Over the past few weeks I have been busy travelling. Whenever I travel, I feel the pang and miss my girls terribly – when that pang comes I take special note of what it is that I miss and without fail, it is the ‘mundane’. These days when I am on assignment for work, doing something exciting couldn’t be further from my mind and I have to work to keep focused on the task.
In my earlier years I was completely preoccupied with pursuing the exciting pathway to quench my thirst for success. Oh God….if I could only retrace those steps I would make drastically different decisions. Misguided ambition can be the fuel that tips the scales towards self destruction, it can also break the adhesive that holds friends together. I remember when my juvenile drive towards being famous preoccupied my mind, it wasn’t the money, it was recognition. It was pretty harmless back then but if I had allowed that drive to follow me into my more mature years, it would have pulled the threads from my ‘clothes of friendship’ and I would be left standing naked holding a pair of drumsticks!
As I said in my last post, the thought of being near someone with special needs was a distraction from the ‘real game’ in life and it was just plain awkward. But now I get it, I truly get it. I remember when Sunshine was still in the ICU, she was on a ventilator for a little over 4 months. Compared with the size of her body the tube in her mouth that pumped breaths of life seemed big and cumbersome. It made me feel claustrophobic imagining what it must have felt like for her. Amongst the monotonous beeps of monitors and alarms, Sunshine would see us come into her pod at the ICU and on a good day despite her surroundings, she would give us the life giving smile that I had been waiting for all day, it made everything else seem like a nonevent.
My heart would tear in two when I would think about how the hospital, the vent, alarms and nurses was her only impression of life. For a long time she would not even have the benefit of a secure hug from us because she was too fragile to pick up. Even still, her little soul had joy immersed deep inside and when she saw a weathered mum and dad visit her at night sick with worry, her smile would fill the room giving us hope. The tension between deep distress and joy would beat against each other violently in my heart causing the great contradiction in my soul that I still wrestle with today.
So how am I the lucky guy? In my book I talk about the 0-10 scale. Most people will avoid the zeros in life if they can, who would ever subject themselves to pain if you didn’t have to? The only reason I recognise and feel the 10 on my scale of joy is because I understand the gravity of the zero – now there is contrast. Walking in the ICU to visit Sunshine all those years ago was the true zero but then in an instant her smile of courage catapulted me to 10. In some ways it was torturous to feel all those emotions at once but because the zero and ten were so close together in one given moment, it gave me an immediate appreciation.
Now Sunshine is healthier and the hospital visits are slowly growing further apart, we don’t feel the scale of 0-10 so violently but…her simple smile carries an incredible amount of power. That smile isn’t just a reflection of a small moment bubbling in her soul, it is a reminder to me of a journey that has truly put context to the ‘mundane’ and how the small things in life really matter. Her smile ignites many emotions and at times reminds me of the bad days in the ICU but that is the only reason her smile has as much potency as it does. I am lucky because what would normally be just a ‘cute smile’ is now a life enriching moment. Would I wish this journey on anyone? Absolutely not! But…. it is because of this that I feel more connected to life and strangely – feel more peaceful.
The Lucky Guy…..