Life is tenuous

I’m old and creaky and conscious of having a tenuous hold on life. I feel like I could keel over at any moment. It’s rather freeing, and I can see now that my hold on life was always tenuous. I just didn’t know it. One oops is all it takes. A heckuva lot of things have to go right for me to keep going. All my innards have to have their act together or I could end up by the side of the road, rather than here in the garden where I won’t get run over.

The same goes for Whitney Houston, Ed McLaughlin, and you. Any hold on life is tenuous. I think that’s why we talk about the “miracle of life.” If you don’t think life’s a miracle, you don’t know enough. We’re all in critical condition. Old news for Buddhists; being conscious of that impermanence somehow makes room for an appreciation of all of life, especially your own. I’m paraphrasing here.

I cut my finger not long ago, and the blood and pain from just that little accident changed my world. Although a minor mishap, it made any number of actions at least difficult. I carry my keys in a different pocket now because I can’t get my injured hand in a pocket. Keyboarding has become a pure bother and takes way longer because of all the errirs I make. I can wash dishes only with great difficulty and one hand, all of which is trivial.

My wife’s hold on life seems even more tenuous than mine, but I wouldn’t bet on it even if it were measurable. Retching aside, Janice’s energy level varies from low to lower, and one look makes her general condition obvious. She could still pull through this and outlive me and you, too. Meanwhile, we both periodically try to accept reality and still focus on a vision of a happy future, which works now and then.

Mostly she and I just take things as they come, day by day, minute by minute. Each day was about all we had to think about at the cancer clinic in Arizona—What’s up this morning? Do you want to go to yoga? Is there an infusion today? What do you want to do on the weekend? What’s the weather like? How do you feel? Are you hungry? Thirsty? Warm enough? Hot? Cold?

No matter how things went during the day, the next day was new and filled with the same infinite possibilities as all the rest of them. Our holds on life then were just like they are now—tenuous. Yours, too.