It’s odd how something so simple can be such a catalyst for change, to shift your perspective, to focus your vision, to reinforce your determination or resolve. For some, it might be a single word or maybe two. For others, it might be a sound or a smell. Always something seemingly simple, yet that conveys a greater meaning, a depth that once the context can be seen, expands into a new universe of understanding. For me, it’s these two numbers.
I’ve mentioned before that I went a very long time in my life, ignoring a desire to write, to share the stories inside me. Fear, doubt. Both from inside me and from other people. My mind was always so filled with tales, visions of imaginary worlds and the people that walked them. I have a torn-up, tattered little notebook, filled with the kernels of such worlds, embryonic stories, waiting to be born. Much like the notebook, the pages ripped and creased, the spine broken and the cover wrinkled and stained, I once considered that part of my soul forever silenced. A pleasant memory, like much of my past. Tales of a bygone time when I was a better, more optimistic, more hopeful person.
For a long time, almost twenty years, I worked to convince myself that today was as good as it would be. That there was nothing really on the horizon and nothing worth revisiting from the past. I had made my decisions, some of which ruined a part of me, and there was nothing but to push forward and make the best of an otherwise bad situation.
And, to a degree, a part of that is true. Specifically, the past about moving forward. The rest was utter bullshit. It was a lie I told myself to convince myself that I could find nothing better. When you live in a world of pain and heartbreak and you see no exit -no way to escape- then it is a comforting lie to pretend there is nothing better, that this is the best is can be. With nothing to strive for, to seek or to achieve, living with a half life, a lesser life is less painful, less arduous a task to endure. It’s a stupid silly lie, but there are millions of people that live it every day.
I found my escape, my salvation almost six years ago. I then found my new life the following year: my wonderful, beautiful wife. She showed me that life was better than I’d thought, that mistakes only defeat you if you allow yourself to be defeated. Sight unseen, she convinced me that my tales were worth telling and that I was a suitable steward of them. She inspired me to write once more, to try and find my voice again and to nurture and encourage it.
I’ve been generally successful. I’ve not been the most dedicated writer, going long lapses without putting pen to paper (or finger to key as it stands) or I’ll get diverted to some other aspect of my craft. I’ve mentioned those diversions before and while I am occasionally frustrated by them, I also recognize that sometimes they are necessary, be it to cleanse the literary palate or simply explore some new idea. On the whole, I’m proud of the progress I have been making, although I am still a shame at maintaining an updated blog. I regret that, but there’s always time to make better, to improve and do something more.
162 over 117.
Except when there might not be. I had three teeth taken out this last week. Three molars. 17, 18 and 30. More numbers. no less important. One had become broken and caused an infection. The other two were simply dying and needed to be removed. The surgery went well, although it was all done under local anesthetic and nitrous oxide. Why? Well, I’m overweight and the oral-maxillofacial surgeon was uneasy about doing the procedure with me under general anesthesia. Since general anesthesia causes all of your muscles to relax, the extra weight around my neck -the layer of fat- could potentially cause my throat to collapse and suffocate me. Since there would be no anesthesiologist present, there’d be no one to monitor me, nor anyone to intubate me, if necessary. As such, I had to go through three relatively painful extractions. I consider it a penance. Anyways, this was obviously something of a wakeup call.
Of course, the greater shock was when the nurses twice took my blood pressure reading and told me they were high. Dangerously high. 162 over 117. That’s moderate hypertensivity. With every beat of my heart, I’m damaging it, making it work harder, be less flexible. If I don’t make a change, several changes, I will most likely reach high or perhaps even critical hypertensive in a very short while. And -of course- eventually die.
I’ve made a lot of excuses about my weight. I’m fat, but not that fat. Granted, I hate how I look and -of course- hate myself a little for that, but not enough to truly change, to break patterns and build new habits. Yet, I’m back to a point, like six years ago when I realized that my life was wasting, that my marriage was a sham and that my life was horrible, and that -most of all- I was to blame for allowing it to become what it was. It was time for a change. And I made it. Decisively. Quickly.
Now it is that time again. I’ve got a good life, a wonderful marriage and a budding writing career. But I need to let go of my vain excuses. To make those changes, to let go of the things that matter least to me and embrace the things that do. I love my wife too much. I want to write too much. I want to live, to start a family, to do everything I never did over the last twenty years because I was too stubborn or too blind or too defeated. It’s time to begin something new.