Monday, June 11, 2012

Use It Wisely

Yesterday I accomplished something amazing.  Something transformative.  Something that felt like the turning point to get my life back.  I finished a half-marathon.

And yet it all seems so trivial, so irrelevant.  Because yesterday I also watched a man, a man my age, as he lay dying.

Back in January I signed up for a half-marathon.  I had grand plans to get in shape.  Then life got in the way.  I barely trained.  And yet I didn't want to quit.  Wisely or not I decided to do the marathon anyway.  A friend and co-worker of mine was also in the same boat.  We put ourselves in the very back of the pack -- our only goal to finish.

And indeed we were in the back.  So much so there were no visible people in front of us and no visible people behind us. This was a trail run -- through the wonderful forested high desert.  It felt like we were alone in the world despite the 750 people ahead of us.

Things were going well and we were pacing ourselves nicely; running one minute and walking two.  We made it halfway through the course when things changed.  Up ahead was a group of people.  This was odd because we'd passed a watering station about a mile back.   Could another station be so soon?

Then we came up to the group.  A man was down on the trail and the people were performing CPR. We stood there, dumbfounded, trying to determine if we could be of some help. As it turns out the people who stopped before us were an ER doctor, a nurse and a nursing student; all participants in the race.  They were taking turns giving chest compressions. The paramedics were on their way.  It seemed there was nothing we could do.  We did not want to be in the way and therefore decided to continue on -- albeit with a heavy heart.

Soon thereafter we saw a man on a bicycle with a defibrillator.  We were hopeful.  We saw life flight come and go.  We were hopeful.  We crossed the finish line and did not hear any news.  We were hopeful.  

Our hopes went unanswered.  The runner, a vibrant forty-year-old man, died on the trail.

And I wonder -- should I have stayed?  Was there anything I could have or should have done?  I know the answer -- could I have done something I would have.  Had we been first on the scene we'd have been doing CPR.  As it stands the best people were already there.

My whole heart goes out to Mr. Tufts family and loved ones.  Though I didn't know him I want to reach out and help in any way that I can.  

This death brings me full circle back to the start of this blog.  What would I do if I had twelve months to live?  And the same holds true -- all the things I wanted to do then I still want to do today.  Seems I'd best get on it.  Today I'm cleaning house and cooking dinner.   This afternoon I'm plotting how to travel (do we really need two cars?).  Tonight I'll read a book.  And tomorrow another.

This startling experience is yet another reminder to be present.  To live in the moment.  Because life does not come with guarantees.  Not only do I want to take this to heart.  I want you to take this to heart.

We all have a finite and undetermined amount of time on this planet.  Use it wisely.


1 comment:

lily boot said...

Wow! I'm so sorry for Mr. Tuft and his family. Gosh - that would have really knocked my socks off too. And I agree so wholeheartedly with you - we have to live it and I'm so glad for this message this morning. I have an unexpected week off before I began a three week mental health placement (in an acute inpatients' ward in an inner city hospital - eek!) and I'm going to live every moment of it instead of whining because of plans that will now change. Thankyou. p.s. I'm so glad we've met!