Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Deathbed Test

My life seems defined by small interruptions, the stove-top timer that went off even though I'd already turned the heat off under my soup, the tiny cat who is convinced that the dog's food must be better than his and tortures the dog's heels while he tries to eat, the dog whose need to be let out is directly proportional to the number of seconds I've been seated in the recliner.

Yet, on the days when I'm not interrupted multiple times for inane reason, I end up pacing, losing track of my objectives, sometimes feeling aimless.

It's almost as if those interruptions serve as a reminder that I have a purpose in mind and the Universe is there to either prod me toward it or gently nudge me into a different direction.

It's the deathbed test. Am I the only one who does this?

When I'm lying on my deathbed, I once read, I won't likely wish I had spent more time cleaning my house. The original quote by Paul Tsongas went like this: "No one on his deathbed ever said, I wish I had spent more time on my business." When I first encountered it, some harried mom had changed 'business' to 'cleaning.' I was attracted to that saying like a fly to a pile of shit. I'm not known for my love of cleaning house. My friends once labeled me a bachelor because of the random and dirty condition of my apartment. I'm not sure if it was the bike hanging on the wall like art, the estate sale couch, or the dirty dishes fixed in the sink.

Since then, I've done the deathbed test for multiple areas of my life, spending time with the friend who doesn't respect my opinion, volunteering for the teacher who didn't like me because I stood up to her, the group quilt project that evolved away from the joy it was supposed to be into a chore and a debt. These things easily dropped off my list of priorities when given the deathbed test.

So what remains?

I will never regret making healthy meals for my family. The time I spent building Legos and playing with action figures with Nick stay on that list even though I had wished more than once that I could get up in a particular moment. Teaching Nick to drive sticks. I can't tell you how comfortable it makes me to let him take the wheel. He has pushed so hard his whole life to have autonomy and this is his beginning. Making that quilt for my best friend's daughter and the one I donated to the Evergreen Cancer Center in memory of my dad are both good deathbed priorities. And I'm glad I went to the Womxn's March on Seattle even though I knew I was getting sick. The two women marching next to me with their son scored a ten on that one, and the bald eagles too. Did anyone tell you that a pair of bald eagles soared over our march, like some great metaphor for the patriotic message of our cause?

Look, I still have this nasty cold and I don't think I'm going to make any great literary achievements today. I just wanted to tell you that talking to you passes my deathbed test too. I can picture you out there, all eight of you, commiserating when I'm aggravated about the silly cat and his quest for the best food in the house and the way he eats dog food in order to achieve it. I love believing that there are moms out there who worry about underachieving or who just feel unappreciated by their teenagers. I love believing that I might make one person think about how most of the plastic containers we buy are only filled half way because of a marketing ploy and that there's a whole raft of plastic bigger than Texas in each ocean right now. I might make you think about grabbing that Ziploc container that you can throw into the dishwasher instead of a plastic bag you're going to goober and throw away after one use. Or I might convince you to buy the loose lettuce instead of the stuff in a plastic clam shell. I might talk about Mike and make you think of one person who loves you dearly. I can never go wrong talking about love. And I love thinking I might sometimes make you laugh.

Thank you for listening, jb

No comments:

Post a Comment