On the mountaintop

On the mountaintop


 Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
Carl Jung
I (Tom) walked on to the elevator at Harrisburg hospital after another long and restless night.  Nevertheless, I entered with a huge smile and a look of satisfaction on my face—and it wasn’t just because I had my morning cup of coffee and a newspaper in hand–I was in a state of utter joy–the same place I had been in emotionally and spiritually since the birth of our twin daughters Madelyn and Mya Monday morning.  I’m not sure if it was the look of exhaustion or if it was the two wristbands I was wearing with the words GIRL 1 and GIRL 2 that gave it away but everyone seemed to notice that I was a proud daddy.  As the elevator ascended from main floor #1 to the maternity floor #9 people started exiting, construction workers, hospital employees, staff, and patients.  Each one gave me a smile and a word of congratulations as they left, including one couple who it seemed, didn’t have reason to be joyful or satisfied this day.   They exited to floor # 6 oncology.  The husband put his arm around his wife consoling her as they left.  It appeared as though she was suffering from cancer. She had lost all of her hair, she looked thin, she looked sad.  
Life is funny sometimes.  We have moments that get etched in our memories forever; moments of utter joy and satisfaction.  But we also know that life is filled with peaks and valleys and that in the matter of an instant we can move from the mountaintop back down into the valley.  
Leaving the elevator this morning I was reminded of a book I read several years ago by Mitch Albom called Tuesdays With Morrie.  Mitch Albom writes about himself in the story and his relationship with a man in his 80’s named Morrie who is dying of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and the many discussions (on Tuesday afternoons) that they had together.  In one of their Tuesday discussions, Mitch asks Morrie about death and dying.  Morrie says:
Everyone knows they are going to die…but nobody believes it.  If we did, we would do things differently…But there is a better approach.  To know you’re going to die, and to be prepared for it at any time.  That’s better.  That way you can actually be more involved in your life while you’re living.  
This morning I walked to the elevator somewhat dazed and somewhat unappreciative, even for just a few minutes, of the beautiful moment at hand.  After sleeping (or should I say NOT sleeping) for only 2-3 hours two nights in a row, I was a bit frustrated.  Even for just a few minutes, I had lost the sense of wonder and excitement of the event that was unfolding before me.  But then I walked into the elevator and noticed a woman who is struggling with cancer and my perspective changed.  It made me, once again, be reminded that life is fragile and fleeting.  It reminded me that the moments on the mountaintop, life the one I am on right now, don’t last, won’t last, can’t last, and therefore should be cherished and savored all the more. 

 

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