God-Damn, Mother-Fucking Perspective!

Scan 2I’m certain you’ll excuse my language when I disclose that my best friend was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. So I can cuss as much as I fucking want, right? And blaspheme for good measure?

Talk about limbo, she’s currently waiting for her surgery to be scheduled. She won’t know the outcome or what, if any, permanent damage has occurred until she’s well into the month long initial recovery period (how long does it take to fully recover from brain surgery? No one knows). So, in the meantime, she’s on steroids and pain meds and functioning in the fog, ruminating over the possibilities and maintaining an admirable sense of humor and stoicism.

“Surviving Limbo” has felt like an apt title for a blog about living in-between married and divorced, but since I chose it I’ve felt a subtle shame due to the relatively first world, non-dire nature of such circumstances. It’s certainly a painful inconvenience to struggle with identity and philosophical crises and restructuring a family. It can be life-degrading, even life-threatening but there’s a measure of exaggeration in the application of the word “surviving.” You only have to witness someone truly imperiled to recognize the distinction between lifestyle issues vs. life and death issues.

One of my ambitions has been to broaden my scope and tell other peoples’ stories of surviving limbo, whether facing divorce, mortal threats, or any significant transitions, how we survive and thrive in the midst of ambiguity, doubt, fear and confusion, fascinates me.

It’s dreadful that I now find myself compelled to pursue this course, not by my own self-motivation but by the provocation of my closest, dearest, life-long friend living out the epitome of surviving limbo. I won’t say her name. I won’t tell her story right now (it’s just begun and she may not want it told) but tonight I’m fixated on perspective.

A wise teacher once said, “if you have a problem, you just need a bigger problem.” None of us really need that bigger problem, we just really need to recognize the potential, the frailty of our existence, the fact that we live in a state of limbo from the moment we’re born until the moment we die; the whole of our experience, at least in this incarnation, occurs in the in-between state. All unknown and rich with variables from the most exhilarating and joyous to the dreadful and agonizing. We live here, perpetually. Sometimes, that is highlighted by surprises, like an unexpected love affair, employment opportunity, or … brain tumor.

So, how we live and thrive in this overall limbo can be informed by how we live and thrive in the most challenging and traumatic limbos. These are the stories I want to explore and share in the hopes of providing insights, inspiration and perspective.

To be continued…

Photo: Miles Bitton

Life Lesson: “You can’t just play defense!”

Silhouette of a Teen Boy shooting a BasketballLast week my dad came to watch my 12 year old son’s basketball game. The opposing team was really aggressive but our team was maintaining a fat lead (around 15 points). I turned to my dad and said, “They just have to keep them from shooting right? Just hold them off to win this thing.” My dad’s gaze shifted from the court straight to me and with exasperation, he exclaimed, “What? No, that’s not how you win. You can’t just play defense!”

Immediately I personalized this comment. With a chuckle, I affirmed, “yeah dad, I get it, you’re right.” His focus was back on the game when I muttered, “hmm, this could explain a lot. I’ve been playing defense. It might be time for me to play offense.” I hadn’t even intended for him to hear that part but he swung his head, looked me dead in the eyes and said, “yeah, it is time for you to play offense. Get moving.”

The game turned into a nail biter with both teams playing hard and giving 100%. My son’s team won by only a few points. No doubt, if they had let up at all, it would have been a loss.

Ever since, I just haven’t been able to get my dad’s message out of my head. Only a month ago I wrote about feeling like a fighter on the ropes needing to stay in the ring. I’m tough. I’m ready. On alert. I’m playing defense. All the time. No wonder I’m exhausted. No wonder it’s hard to muster, not just energy, but enthusiasm.

We all take hits in life and get thrown off our game. It’s so interesting to me to suddenly become aware that ever since my husband left my approach to life has been one of warding off trauma and difficulties—protecting myself, protecting my kids and doing a great job of it for sure. But not fully directing my own life, not really living 100%.

Dad’s wisdom was so simple and so universal. Now, I’m contemplating how I can translate my awareness into action. I know for one thing, I’m going to have to start taking more risks.

This was my son’s first season playing basketball and he had the guts to take shots when he wasn’t sure he could make it. It looked like fun and it worked. His whole team took and missed a lot of shots but ended the season undefeated. I’m going take a nod from those champs and start doing the same.