By Christopher Green
For those of you who sat through say an honors English Class with someone that we perhaps can call Mrs. Keyes or Mr. Lanning or Mrs. Lipjah, the endless search for that sweet spot in the play or in the novel or short story where the climax occurs, where the problems have all been revealed and the outcome is assured, even if not known at the time, seem to never occur in real life.
In Shakespearean times, that sweet spot almost always occurred in the middle scene of the third act. In modern times, where attention spans have shrunk so as to accommodate only two maybe three acts at most, the defining moment, the climax, if you will, usually comes close to the end.
Most of us share the main events in life, the religious ceremonies, the graduations, and the marriages that define the high moments of our lives. For many, these are the moments to strive for, enjoy and mark as the major events that begin and end important segments of our lives.
I have enjoyed, mostly, those major passageways and then some.
You could mark March 23, 1984, the day I took my last drink, as a major landmark in my life’s journey. I can look back and see the cleave between drunk and sober with a crystal clarity that ultimately helps me maintain my sobriety.
Less than one year in, I quit smoking. Why then? Simply because the people in AA told me not to make any major changes in the first year of sobriety so naturally, I showed them I could do it and not jeopradize my recovery. I guess I am just powerless over the desire to say I told you so.
Those of you who have known me for years know that this “March to the beat of a different drummer” saying that some guy named Henry David Thoreau wrote down sometime in the 18th century was adopted by me long ago as my life motto.
Well, there is also the obstinate “No one can tell me what to do” attitude that has plagued me all my working life, which is why I work best when I work by myself.
Let’s just say I have always refused to suffer self-important authority figures gladly. Assistant Principals take note.
But life had more in store for me as you have and will see if you follow this blog.
My illness, which became apparent shortly after I quit my wicked ways, fell down on me like that proverbial ton of bricks. You can read more about this in the post from early May called, “How I Found Myself in This Situation.”
Suffice it to say that this up-coming clear break with my past life, otherwise known as “the Transplant,” the break that legitimizes my new life is in essence a true life-affirming event.
It is not often we get to get a do over.
The good thing is I am not even considering that I will be well into my early fifties when this blessed event takes place. That’s not going to even be a factor. The only thing that will put a governor on my action is that repaired hip that really limits what I can do physically. But unlike far too many other men my age, I do not long for the physical prowess of my youth.
This past weekend when my step-nieces and nephew gathered at my sister and brother-in-law’s house to convene a confab about the eldest’s marriage to this wonderful man who, by the way, reminds me a lot of my best friend Bill from Ohio State, I had a chance to experience some of the stuff I have been missing.
My sister and brother-in-law have a home with a heated in ground swimming pool that they treat with natural brine instead of the caustic chlorine compounds people usually rely on. This makes for a perfect combination that is ideal for me to take a swim.
I hauled out one of the old tanks I have hanging around and a regulator that can get the O2 level up far higher than I can coax out of my refillable tanks. I had a 20 ft hose from my times at the Cleveland Clinic that I just had to take home with me because I am committed to using stuff more than once. In that, I do not compromise.
So I went swimming for the first time in five years. Well, by swimming I mean paddling around on raft. Splashing a lot and just relaxing in the heated pool.
It was heaven for me.
I have started on this path to re-enlightenment already by concentrating on skills I wanted to hone but never seemed to find the time for. I have practiced my guitar a lot since I came home from the hospital back in 2004. And even though I was in a band in the late 80’s, I wasn’t as disciplined as I am now since I had a better guitar player to hide behind and a far superior singer to rely on.
Last year, the time between Christmas and New Years, Laurie and I spent a few days with my best friend from High School when we finally reconnected after at least 15 years. What he did for me was talk me into spending enough money on a guitar that would not fight back at me.
Now I practice my playing technique and I can safely say I am better today than I was when I was in the band. I want to give a big shout out to one of my best friends, Scott.
One of the first things I want to do when I can breathe deep once my new lungs have acclimated to my body is to walk up a flight of stairs.
I know it sounds trivial, but I have not been able to walk up a flight of stairs without distress since the early 1980’s. I want to bound up those stairs as fast as I can which probably won’t be all that fast or even bounding since my repaired hip will not allow that, but I will get up as fast as I can.
I will be able to walk, ride a bike, hike a trail, swim…
Think about all the things we do that depend on a healthy, functioning set of lungs. Now think about not being able to climb down the stairs to get to the beach, think about always watching others do all the stuff you take for granted and I’ll be there.
Thanks to the ultimate in recycling, I will take life from another who was wonderful enough to think about giving me the ultimate gift. I can promise now, in memory of whoever gifts me their lungs, I wlll make the best of it because I will have been giving the chance that many of us can only dream about, a do over.
Whether there is a god, a higher power, or just a vast connection that makes us all a part of one another is not for me to say. But I will say this; the ingenuity of man to keep pushing the boundaries of life is at least an example of some divine calling, if not a spirit divine enough never to give up on life.