The doctor says I have about six months to live

Islands among a sea of clouds (Yangshuo, China)

Returning home from my last trip to China, my voicemail contained a half dozen urgent messages from the doctor’s office. Listening to them one at a time, the woman on the other end became increasingly worried and exasperated with each message she left. I had a physical prior to leaving for the summer and there were some irregularities in the blood tests. I had to come in immediately to discuss the results.

I booked the soonest appointment available, but had to pass a few days uncertain of what the issue was. Those days I lay awake at night, my mind running through the worse case scenarios. I even wondered if it was a terminal illness and what that would mean for me.

It turned out to be nothing – a vitamin imbalance and slightly elevated cholesterol. I know that is a click-bait title for this first post, but this news had a profound effect on me and I wanted you to experience that for a moment.

If you are thinking I overreacted, there is more to the story. While studying tai chi in Yangshuo this summer, I met up with a old expat friend of mine, Becky. She was studying Mandarin at a school in town. Our first evening together, she brought me up to date on her life. I was shocked to find that, during a routine exam, a doctor had misdiagnosed her with a terminal illness. According to his assessment, a condition that Becky had been living with had suddenly become much worse and she had about six months left to live. The doctor ordered additional tests to confirm his diagnosis. In the following 48 hours, while waiting for the results, she experienced great fear but also a degree of clarity never felt before. With the end of her life a few months away, Becky sketched out what she wanted to do with her remaining time. One major point was that she wanted to publish a book which she had started to write.

Thankfully, it was a misdiagnosis. However, that experience alone had an enormous impact on Becky and I got to see it firsthand. She is full of vitality and seems to live every minute more fully. She also seems much more carefree. She has also kept up with writing and maintains a blog about her obsession with badminton and one about her life in Xiamen.

Since the summer I have done a lot of introspection myself. The reasons were four-fold: the scare with the physician, my study of Buddhism, a bruising election cycle, and the fact that I will be 30 in a few days. What I found is that the image I have of myself in my mind does not line up with who I am as a person. For example, I consider myself a passionate environmentalist. Yet, beyond posting an interesting article on social media or recycling now and then, I really don’t do much to live up to that designation.

I am restarting this blog as a way to keep myself honest going forward. I plan to blog about spirituality and simple living as a way of keeping myself on track as I move toward living a physical life that is more in line with the image of myself in my mind. Hopefully along the way, I can share some interesting and useful insight into this process.

I hope you will tag along as I write and that you will find something in this blog that is meaningful and/or helpful to you.

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