Learning to Love Life, Again and Again
By Susan DeBow
Maybe it took the doctor telling me the EKG showed I had had a heart attack for me to get back to the heart of the matter of living. Or perhaps it was after stressing for a few days before taking several tests that proved that I had not had a heart attack that made my heart soften a bit.
I suppose it was both that made me aware that I do have a heart that will only beat so long, and I can choose to continue to let my head close off my heart, narrow my world and go through the rest of my life skewered like a kabob because of a world view that has become more jaded, or I can open my heart and look at life through the eyes of a child of God. A fifty-six year old child.
I could recount the drama of the last couple of weeks and focus on how I have been playing Russian roulette with my health, thinking that bad eating habits, being a professional chair sitter and stress was not going to take its toll. And, I could say that the terrific bakery, that opened up last fall near my home, had been my downfall. But I don’t want to do that. Because that is heart-closed thinking, the kind that caused me to trot, or should I say, face, the all-too-much fun nuclear stress test.
The day after I received the results of the tests, telling me that yes, I had a heart, and no, it wasn’t diseased to death, my husband and I decided to take a day trip to see some babies that had been born to our niece and nephew.
There is something about a car ride through the cornfields and soybean fields on a day with blueberry skies and happy clouds that helps settle the soul. And as we drove along listening to music that seemed to be written for the clouds skipping along the sky, instead of thinking about what was wrong with the world, I began thinking about the things I love.
And that’s when I could feel a shift in my heart.
Passing a grove of willow trees, I remembered how much I love them and that they are my favorite tree. I mentioned to my husband that if, by chance, we ever did get to buy the acreage we’ve always wanted, that we’d have to plant willow trees and call the place, “The Willows.”
Right after thinking about that was when I realized that I do love many things, and not just the obvious ones like my family.
I love mornings; summer mornings, fall mornings, winter mornings and spring mornings. The summer mornings, when the sun is out, cast the most beautiful ripe grain color across my family room and kitchen. The yellow finches and cardinals sing their wake-up calls and make my heart dance. Fall mornings act as my transition into winter when it is still dark when I get up. I listen for school busses and watch out the window to see headlights of cars with people going to work. Where are they going? What do they do?
Sometimes in the winter, the mornings are quiet. No traffic. No school busses. No garbage trucks. And if it isn’t Sunday, a day when the sound of quiet is natural, I can look out my window and see the reason for the silence. Snow. I love to look at the size of the flakes and notice whether it is a heavy snow or a soft, pillow-like snow.
Spring mornings give me the thrill of a new season of life. Will I see a crocus or daffodil peeping through the ground? Or will the day bring weather that was made in a blender?
I love driving on a road I have never driven on before. I love to think about the lives of the people in the houses we pass. I adore finding a local restaurant that isn’t glossy and overdone and tries to put on airs. Better yet are the little “joints” where the men wear overalls and sport a John Deere cap and sit in groups with hunched shoulders, fixing the world over a cup of coffee and easy over eggs with a side of corn beef hash.
I love sitting near them eavesdropping, drinking a cup of Earl Grey tea with Splenda and a dash of milk. Actually, I love eavesdropping. Not on people in my house or people I know, but on people I don’t know. I love listening to other people’s conversations in restaurants or in beauty shops or grocery stores. How else would I have learned that Glenda was leaving her husband for a woman who rides a Harley?
My relationship with life has to be renewed periodically. I had forgotten that like any relationship, how I feel about life has to be tended, watered, fed and nurtured. My heart bears the brunt if I don’t do so.
So when we got home form our sojourn, I could have looked at the dog hair all over the hall floor and said, “Look at this dog hair. I just hate it.” Or I could have said, “Damn, look at those wilted flowers. Am I the only person that sees them?”
But instead, I gave the dogs a treat, became thrilled when I saw my new Drawing magazine had arrived and walked out to the garden and marveled at the abundance of ripe tomatoes and technicolor zinnias that were growing.
And that night when I went to bed in my lovely, large, unmade bed that to me means I’m home, I thanked God for yet another day in this adventurous journey called LIFE.
About this writer
- Susan DeBow is a Midwest writer with a Southern heart. Her work has been published in the Chicago Tribune, Family Circle, Christian Science Monitor, Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Writer, Poets and Writers, among many others. Her first novel, Cleaning Closets, was published in 2007 by Dialogue Publishing.