If I Die Before I Wake
If I Die Before I Wake
I wrote this book as Eli Shaw. This is an excerpt from the book that captures much of the emotion and idea that we took so much for granted before this pandemic. I am sure you can add many items to the list. It is a timely book unexpectedly.
Taking Things for GrantedIn any situation after spending so much time with someone, we as humans have the possibility of taking this person, and situations we find ourselves in with them, for granted. This person could be a mother, father, wife, husband, lover, sister, brother or friend. Also, situations, events, and life-changing cycles can, and are eventually taken for granted as we get used to their presence in our lives. For me, taking relationships for granted was like Christmas day when I was a child. Those first glimpses of toys and brightly colored boxes with shimmering bows under the tree became so special and unique. I wanted to hold on to it forever. All of my attention was focused on my new-found treasures. I would hurry to the base of the tree and tear open those blocks of glitter and magic that was so carefully created the night before to camouflage the reality of my recent dreams and wishes, subliminally suggested to my elders throughout the past year. In most cases, the moment would last a few hours, usually until everyone had received theirs as I patiently waited out of sheer respect. Yet there was always that tiny glimmer of hope that there might be one more for me. Sometimes the excitement would continue for a day. Occasionally I would be fortunate enough to experience it for several days. However, there always comes that moment when I would look at the tree with all the toys around it except for that special one I had carefully chosen and saw that there were no children or adults to be seen. The moment was over. Just a memory was left. I have, in the past, taken for granted those moments of joy, specialness, sense of love and belonging and sharing as if I can recapture it at any given moment. This seems to be what many of us do in our relationships. I know, I have done this. Yet I have known people who have found a way to savor these moments, even though they may be few and far between. This act of taking things for granted is typical and will probably continue to be a routine encounter as long as we live. We take for granted that the sun will come up each morning, so we sleep in and miss the sunrise. If there ever came a time when we knew it was going to be the last time, we would see the sun forever, we would probably take in all the rays we could before it went away. There will be times in our lives when we will come to realize how special we and the people and things that surround us are. Looking back at my time with Mark, I remember how special it was the day we both got caught in the worst rainstorm I had seen. Yet we decided to just keep walking and enjoy the experiences as everyone rushed around us. We began to realize how close our friendship, and sharing that went with it, was. I am sure you can look back at some crazy time you shared with a friend or relative that seems to come up in conversations now and then as, “remember the time we . . .”. Even the disagreements we had that would send us crashing into a wall of reality were vital because they weeded out the unwanted parts of our friendship. Look closely at your friendships. See how they came about or developed over the years. Notice how unique certain important parts of your experiences were. Look at the hard times and how they may have tightened up the loose ends of the friendship that you may now take for granted. The experiences you will read about in this book could relate to anyone. If you have consciously taken a breath, been startled at the barking of a dog or a loud noise, been exhilarated after a cool plunge in a cold clear pond, been overcome with joy at the meeting of a friend not seen for some time and anyone who has experienced the birth of their child, death of a loved one, illness, kindness, sadness, anger, confusion or torment. This is not a “cure-all book” or a “claim to have the answers book.” It is a book about my journey through my eyes. Now take a few minutes, look around you and pick ten simple things that you might have taken for granted. My ten things were water, the sun, my van, my sister and two brothers, my friends far and near, electricity, my health, the telephone, the gas station and my sight which is vitally important to me being that I am also a photographer. In 2007, I discovered I have glaucoma which raised my awareness that I took sight for granted for so long. Now think what it might be like to go without some of them. In the case of my sister and two brothers, what it would be like if I needed their help and they were not there? On the subject of gas, have you ever been on a highway when all of a sudden you look at your gas gage and discover it was a hair above empty, and you don’t know where the next gas station is? Does panic ring a bell? Taking something for granted means you expect it will be there when you need it. When it isn’t, you feel at a loss as well as so many other emotions, usually anger at yourself for allowing it to happen. Can you see what I mean about taking life and all its components for granted? Certainly, we can’t go around thinking this way all the time. But as you read this book keep in mind how we do take things for granted. I hope that you may want to look at life, people, things and all their components with a little more respect and compassion. If you are a Caregiver, you may understand what I mean. Also, allow yourself the opportunity to look at stress and its causes and see if you could do something to lessen it. I sometimes take stress for granted and stress can be a significant factor in the success or failure of our caregiving. As I now still take stress for granted, I see how it affects my physical and mental life. My friend, who is a Psychologist and at times my guru, has made me well aware that I am high maintenance. I did not understand what that meant in the beginning and still have trouble making myself aware of this concept. One of her latest responses to a message was, “Call it squelching the have to’s of aliveness. You seem to still need to be the hamster on his wheel. There is nothing wrong with you. I repeat, NADA wrong. You just take yourself for granted like most people I encounter when they’re suffering physical maladies.” So, you see it is still happening to me, taking myself for granted. I guess I could go on forever, as my friends say I will do from time to time. However, there is just one more thing I would like to mention. This book is also about looking at things in your life that may not be needed and are like fallen trees on the road to where you are going. The experiences I am about to share made me aware of all the “stuff” in my life, good and bad. A good analogy for me is when a drain gets clogged, it interrupts the flow. I have created my fair share of clogs and continue to do so. Many times, I hesitate to do something about my stuff or “fallen trees” or a situation thinking that it is not as important as it might be or I can put off attending to it until another time. When I might be forced to go in a different direction in life for whatever reason, it sometimes gives me a chance to see the things I don’t need and act on them. If you have ever been terminated from a job, you know what I mean. In a job where there is a lot of stress, you may think you need to take the aggravation of dealing with the stress. Suddenly the job isn’t there. The need to take the aggravation isn’t there, and we have a learning experience. This happened to me at a job I thought was the best job I had ever had. It had theatre, antiques, volunteers, education, retail and I was the manager. I received so much positive reinforcement about what I was doing, I thought I would never leave. After about a year, I was taken out to lunch and was thanked for all I had done. Then out of nowhere, I was told they had to let me go as they needed to downsize. WOW! I had overcome all the aggravation the job had and made it my own, and suddenly it was not there anymore. Some situations are more difficult than others. When we are in the position of Caregiver, there may be many things we must look at, as I did. I looked at the amount of time I spent on the phone and with whom. Listening to what is being said, how important it was to me and whether I was neglecting something or someone and taking something or someone for granted became important. I still take a lot of things for granted. The difference is, I know when I do. This also presents me with the opportunity to do something about it. All I ask of you is to take what works for you. Learn from the experiences I am sharing with you. Judge only yourself and things closely related to you. Don’t judge yourself too harshly and live your life as if it were only a temporary assignment, an important one. Thank you and Peace.