I’m just waking up this morning. I heard River get up out of bed and walk through the house. Then he climbed back into bed, ate a little dry cereal from the bowl he requested last night and he’s been quiet for a while now. I have been mulling over this question of how to live a more intentional life. I used to feel like my days were stretching out before me. I felt like I had more time, maybe even too much time. Now they are closing in. The work with my patients is elongating as I find myself being more present with them. I am less worried about housework and then find that it piles up in a way that seems to encroach on me. I’ve also been sleeping more. For some reason, my body is hungry for sleep. It’s not in a sleep-too-much kind of way, just an extra hour or 30 minutes here or there that used to be used for this—writing.
Maybe I need to cut back on something. Maybe I have too many elements in my life. I am kindly setting some boundaries for that reason but I also just feel cramped. Even my apartment feels small in some ways. When I think about what might make it feel bigger, I think about walking. What if I went outside? That sounds like a relief. If I could, I would put on my running shoes right now and silently slip out the front door into the cloudy dawn. That would feel good. But I have a child asleep in the next room. So I’ll sit in the dark room and wait for him to start calling, “Mommy, mommy, mooooommmmmyyyy.”
I feel this great urgency to live my life to the fullest. Maybe this is a product of living with chronic disease for so many years. There are lots of support groups for how to DIE from disease or how to FIGHT disease. Less are focused on LIVING with it. For me, I don’t suffer from crippling pain or side effects from medication. My body is fully functional. My disease is basically silent in my body but a constant whisper in my mind, Make your life what you want it to be.
This is the burden and the liberation. I have all of the regular tasks of a divorced mother. I work. I clean. I meal plan (more or less depending on the week). I shop. I drive my son to his dad’s house forty miles away, two to three times a week. I sit with mentally-ill, drug-addicted men and women and try to convince them to take their medication, to stop using methamphetamine or heroin. I play with R, trying to soak in his generous laugh and vivacious spirit. I listen to the worried, manic thoughts of my widowed neighbor, who is enduring the slow takedown of Alzheimer’s without the presence of family or friends. And I try to be present in all of these obligations and tasks. I try to be human. I feel I must do this to answer the call of living life to the fullest. And this presence makes life feel FULL.
There are moments when it is too much. Moments like this morning, when I crave solitude and freedom. The cool morning air on my face and the birdsong in my ears pulling me back to myself, pulling me inward. I certainly don’t have it mastered yet, but I feel the call to open myself to life in every way possible. I’m trying to answer it.
There’s the, “Mommy, mommy, mooooommmmmyyyy.” Gotta go!
“I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. “Maya Angelou