Another Take On An Ordinary Day

A few weeks ago, on August 1, I threw out the concept of living life every day as if it’s Shark Week. The line, delivered by 30 Rock‘s Tracy Morgan in that show’s first season, has stuck with and puzzled me for years.

Then I came upon a striking post called Live Each Day Like There’s a Lot of Them Left, dated August 2. Jen Singer, a blogger with two sons and a history of lymphoma, expresses the considered notion that maybe the best thing to do after cancer is to live, essentially, as you would do otherwise, except with a bit of added balance.

She writes:

… I — the one who has been so close to the end of life – am supposed to tell you to treat each day as though it’s your last. Except, if it were my last, I certainly wouldn’t be tanking up my mini-van for the rest of the week’s carpools…

Rather, I suggest that you treat every day as though you’ve got a whole lot of them left, precisely because you don’t really know if you do. Go about the everyday, do the drop-offs, get out the knots. Clean the house. Go ahead and get through the stuff that fills your To-Do list…Slog, if you must, because that’s perfectly okay…

Still, every now and then, don’t forget to turn up the radio and listen…

Her point, I think, is that we all have to move on with our lives if we can. It’s the nitty-gritty, mundane activities that keep families on track may also keep us sane, safe and sound. Cancer can be liberating, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should exploit that as license to escape from responsibilities.

The pressure to “treasure each moment” can be counterproductive. To live life as usual is a challenge of another sort, important for the normal development of our kids and ourselves.

I like this perspective.

Like Jen, I take pleasure in the ordinary stuff – cooking, helping my family and yes, checking off items on the list of things I’ve been meaning to do for years. It’s a long list, and I’ve lots to take care of.

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  • Thanks Elaine. It’s especially important this month, as my aunt was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. Whenever I talk to my cousin about setting up PET scans and getting ready for chemo, I think about how they would all love to be tanking up their mini-vans for soccer practice instead.

  • Thank you so much for your wondefrul insight. For those of us who have survived truamatic and what seemed to be insurmontable challenges in our live, there is a kind of frenzy that engulfs as a result of that popular but (for me) inscrutable mantra of “living each day as if it is your last. ” What should we be doing? Gorging ousrselves on ice-cream and not wasting our last precious moments making the bed? Of course when the truth of mortality moves from the theoretical to the here and now, all fo our cherished assumptions are forced under an inner microscope for serious evaluation. However, living the over examined life can lead to added stress and guilt that we are not seizing the day to something exceptional and dramtatic to make up for what has befallen us. Too much pressure! And do we need that? Our encounters with the fragilty and unpredictability of life cannot help but teach us to number the days . I agree, that learning to take joy in the ordinary pleasures of everyday life–our new perspective enabling us to dwell less on its disappointments the nuisances — holds the key to the balance we need. Now if I only could find my keychain.

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