Today marks the one-year anniversary of my heart bypass surgery.
I am fully recovered and have made significant changes to my diet and lifestyle. I’m maintaining my weight at about twenty pounds less than before the surgery, and I’m exercising every day. I’m feeling well enough that without calendars to remind me, I forget that I ever had the procedure.
When one of those significant dates arise, I look back on the events with a vague sense of detachment, like they happened to somebody else, and I have to work hard to remember what it was like falling asleep in the hospital bed the night before, with a nagging fear of never seeing my home or my family again playing in my head.
There are so many important things that we see, feel or touch every day that we don’t appreciate the value of until we are confronted with the real possibility that we may never experience them again. The night before, when I thought of the things that the last time might have already come and gone for, it quickly became overwhelming. From the helicopter seeds that take flight from the big maple tree just outside my back door to the sound and smell of bacon frying to the shadows at the end of the hallway that remain just beyond the reach of the midday sunlight, it didn’t take me long to realize that there were far too many things for me to list.
Now I am back to taking all of these things for granted again. There are so many things that as I was experiencing them I swore I’d never forget that now, only a year later, I’ve already forgotten. And while I lament the loss of the heightened awareness I experienced through my little ordeal, part of me also celebrates the return of preoccupation and blindness to these things, because they are symptomatic of living. To be alive, in the present, is to not have time for such contemplation of the miraculous beauty that is always within our grasp.
Daily routine, the marrow of everyday living, seems trite and trivial compared to the revelatory truths that define the universe until they are taken away from us. Only then can we see that the mundane is the most profound, and that the mechanics of living a life, the forces that prod us to go to work, to make out grocery lists, to even brush our fucking teeth, are the real things that matter. These are the things that keep a life alive, where dignity and truth reside.
I am so happy and grateful to be alive, for the opportunity to once again obsess over the trivial.