“If you use all your energy for living, you have none left for healing.”
My mom told me that when I was recovering from my first and second transplants.
I believe it is a truth that relates to everyone, regardless of the presence of health challenges, physical or emotional.
I really felt early into my second cancer experience that a large part of the reason I faced a relapse was my failure to learn the lesson of balance. Balancing work and play, pushing and resting, ambition and acceptance.
Balance is a funny concept as its subjectivity makes it virtually useless as a goal unless it’s well defined. Before cancer, balance was finding the path to fit all of my activities into the day, it never meant choosing my priorities. My priority was always to do everything, especially when it came to sports and socializing.
My relapse taught me the lesson of balance, and while the subjectivity of the concept remains, my definition has evolved considerably while I’ve maintained my commitment to it. There are times of failure, but I’m human and am fine with that as long as it’s not perpetuated for extended periods.
My ambition continues to be the greatest test of my commitment to balance, even as Karen and I raise our three awesome kids, who are four and under.
Recently I sent a note to a fellow survivor who I felt may have been in a conflict with ambition. I shared my mom’s advice and explained how I had to learn the lesson of balance the hard way. Hearing of Jack Layton’s passing this week brought the same train of thought as when I wrote that survivor.
Those of us with great ambition and great health challenges must be aware that our ambition is an amazing force that can be used to create beautiful things. The same ambition can be our most dangerous foe, more dangerous than our fragile health.
Choices would be easier to make it you could see far down the path of each, but of course all we can do is make the best call possible in the present moment.
When our clock stops, we are responsible for the choices we make and we will see the results of those choices in our life, no matter how short or long, and our legacy.
While a long life may be a common ambition, it is living, not life, that matters most.
Live life. Love life.