"So, what makes it worthwhile? Why are you smiling?"
All true. Good question, really. Why not just give up, curl up in a fetal position, and wait for death? Or at least go to the hospital and let them tranq me into insensibility?
Aside from my wife, my dogs, and my work, there are three main things that make it worthwhile.
- This has been a learning experience. I've been forced to look at the circumstances of others, and see that in comparison to some, I've been, and continue to be, immoderately blessed. I can get around, with a cane, a wheelchair, or on my hands and knees. I can see and hear, and my mind's sharp. I live in a house, and sleep in comfort and warmth. I can't eat much, but when I can eat, the food's there. So many people lack some or all of these...so I'm vomiting blood, and have to crawl to the shop to weld? So what? I think many people on this planet would trade places with me, in a second.
- It's an exercise in savoring every bite. When the landscape's a bit rough, one can try to appreciate the now. The taste of a spoon of rice, the sound of the dogs howling along with a distant siren, the sight of the moon rising. These things were so easy to overlook, but if you look at them from the right perspective, they're precious.
- It's a challenge. Getting through the really bad minutes to the...well, not good, but less really bad minutes is not a trivial exercise. It's a path of tears, and fear. But it wouldn't be a challenge if it were easy, and it wouldn't be a victory if there was nothing to overcome. At the end of the day I'm still - metaphorically - standing. And while it's true that I'm not expressing that "bullshit optimism" during the worst minutes, I tend to bounce back pretty quickly. That bounceback is the measure of the victory.
In the end, I don't know whether all of the above is true and valid, or whether it's just self-aggrandizing self-delusion, and the effort isn't worth the result. It is to me, so I guess that means something.
I'll be here, and working in hope and gratitude, for as long as I'm graced with breath.