Thursday, June 28, 2012

Baby Steps

I'm not sure if it was because I wasn't smoking or just because I had been through so much but those first few days back at work I felt like a toddler....making small tentative steps, being overly cautious, acting like I was seeing everything in the universe for the very first time.  It was not a pleasant feeling but not particularly unpleasant either.  Everything felt unfamiliar. 

I think now that part of that feeling came from the fact that during the time immediately preceding Brennis' heart attack I was essentially on auto pilot.  I was in my life but not really living my life.  Many of you might know what I mean by that.  If you're currently just in your life you probably won't.  As a matter of fact you're probably not even reading this. 

There is, truthfully, a huge difference between "being alive" and "living".  It's not really about being active or jumping out of airplanes or traveling to exotic locations.  "Living" is about participating in your life. It is about being aware of the choices that you have and taking advantage of your ability to make those choices.  It's not about doing the same thing over and over again because that's what has always worked before. It is about taking each new opportunity that presents itself to you, considering it and acting upon it.

I had had glimpses of this at certain times in my life but nothing like the experience I was currently having.  I felt enveloped by the universe, the air around me weighted with significance, every sound amplified with importance every interaction meaningful and profound.  I was centered and alive.  I felt it.

The trouble was I felt very alone.  Only with Brennis did I feel that I was with someone who was experiencing the same things I was experiencing. We didn't really talk about it.  We just knew it.  Being close to death, I believe, means being closer to your soul.  Even though it wasn't me who came close to death I was in close enough proximity that I was able to feel the power of it. It is about being close to your essence...close to the energy that creates you.  You may have experienced this in your own life.  You may experience it some day.  It is not something to be taken for granted.  It is a miracle.

What, however, was I supposed to do with this feeling?  I knew instinctivly that it wasn't permanent.  I knew that it was fleeting like the memory of a dream upon waking.  I needed to know and understand its significance.  I needed to experience it long enough that I could learn from it and allow it to guide me through the next part of my journey. 

I was back at work now and feeling guilty.  I wanted to be home more with Brennis but I had been away from the gallery for so long I had to relieve the people who had been helping out and figure out what I had missed while I was gone.  Every time I left the house I felt lost.  I was now tied to Brennis by a bond that was incredibly strong.  It wasn't a link of dependency but of mutual respect and gratitude.  We had been through "the worst" and came through it together with each other's help.  That kind of a bond can never be broken.

The more I was at work the more I felt as though I was once again going through the motions.  This time, however, I was aware of it.  I recognized it so I was able to stop it.  When I found myself repeating a certain pattern I stopped myself and did it differently.  My awareness of this was so heightened that sometimes it literally made me smile.  When I had enough I went home....back to where I was really needed.  This was not like me at all. 

Now a year later I feel more and more like I am going through the motions.  I've allowed it to slip back into my life slowly over the last twelve slowly that it was unrecognizable.  I think that is why this blog is so important to me.  It is my connection with that feeling.  It is my way of reminiding myself what it was like.  Some people have told me that I dwell on what happened last year too much.  I don't think I dwell on it enough. I'm not talking about the heart attack and the surgery and the recovery.....I'm talking about being alive. 

I want to dwell more on that feeling of being alive.  I want to be able to feel that way all the time.  I know it is real and I know it is possible and I don't believe you are only allowed to feel it after you go through a crisis.  So I begin the journey again today back to that place.....back to the place of "feeling alive". 

Once again I am like a toddler; taking small tentative steps, being cautious and seeing everything in front of me with brand news eyes.  The journey itself reminds me that I am alive.


  1. I have felt the same thing at times since I lost Ben. At first it was going through the motions. I suffered from a depression so deep I never thought I would see the light of day again. It took three years and many "baby steps" to get to the other side. And now that I am here I cherish everyday. I will never be the same but Todd we have been to the brink and survived. Life is to be lived to the fullest and when you feel yourself slippin back just remember that our time here is a precious gift. I love this post. You two are so lucky to have each other.

  2. Thanks are so right. And I have to say that you are amazing in how you have dealt with Ben's death. You are an inspiration to me and many other people too, I am certain. This is not easy stuff sometimes, being alive...but so very worth it when we take the time appreciate every moment and live the life we were meant to live. The bad stuff is going to happen. We can't help that but we can change our reaction to it. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  3. This is so sweet and so dear to my heart. A Mary Oliver quote pops into my mind... so many of her writings address this importance of truly living.

    “When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. When it is over, I don't want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument. I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.”

    Thanks for writing. You remind me of what is important and we all need to be called back to the path from time to time.

  4. Thank you, Su....and thank you for sharing that wonderful quote. I love it!

  5. So poignant, Todd. I relate to this renewed sense of life especially from my recent events. It can be difficult to stay in that sense of renewal, but like you are realizing, can be done. I wonder, have you read Stillness Speaks, (Eckart Tolle)?

    Great post.

    1. No, I haven't Sue....I will find it and read it. I can imagine that you have experienced this too recently. I have been following a blog recently from my father's former cardiologist Dr. Terry Gordon. Many of his blog postings recently have been about how "tragedies" or stressful events in our lives are actually opportunities to learn and grow and give us better lives....that we should be grateful for them for the lessons they teach us. I believe this to be true now but two years ago I might have thought he was crazy.