Things Change: Finding Your Focus

Doctor in hospitalThis isn’t the type of thing I usually write about, but it speaks to one of the key characteristics of an effective decision maker, and that is recognizing what is really important rather than merely urgent.

I was freaking out. Why was I so stupid to decide to offer three different public workshops on three different topics in the space of a few weeks? I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t done any publicity and didn’t have enough people signed up. Should I cancel one or more? What about the venue I’d already paid for?

I noticed my husband Jerry, standing in the doorway of the room. He’s a great guy. He keeps my computer running. He can fix the most obscure problems. He merely has to place his hands on a computer and it starts playing nice. We call him the computer whisperer. He’s really handy to have around, but at that moment I was freaking out and I didn’t want to be disturbed.

He said, “It’s malignant.” Two words and things changed. The day before he was perfectly healthy and suddenly he has cancer. I thought putting this on top of all my other concerns was going to drive me into the ground. But a remarkable thing happened. All my concerns about the workshops, the signups, the venue all lifted off my shoulders, turned to vapor and floated away. Moments earlier I was fragmented, scattered, torn apart. Suddenly I was completely focused.

Jerry had cancer. Esophageal cancer. Fatality rate 85%. Things change. I decided I was going to do whatever I could to get him through this. In any case, we were going to make the most of whatever time together we still had. I canceled all the workshops and refunded everyone’s money, just like that. The money I spent on the venue? Doesn’t matter.

After two months of tests, procedures and major surgery, Jerry was home. He had a feeding tube coming out of his side. Part of his stomach was gone. Part of his esophagus was gone. All of his cancer was gone! He was home and he was alive. They caught it early before it spread. It’s a miracle.

I was so glad he was home that I wanted to marry him all over again. How is it the two of us found each other all those years ago? We were just a couple of kids. How did we know what we were doing? That’s a miracle, too.

I guess we don’t recognize the little miracles in our lives until things change. Step out of the thicket of urgency once in a while and look around. What’s really important?

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