:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Are You Waiting For? (John)

Many times there will be gentle reminders of what life is all about.  The smile of a child.  A Springtime thunderstorm after a long winter.  A good meal like Becky makes.  Then there are the days that life just smacks you in the head with a full grown Yellowfin tuna and screams into your brain just how important it is to get up and do whatever it is that you want to do.  Monday the 21st of March was such a day for me, when I got a phone call from my sister saying that my Dad had a heart attack.  I spent the next hour pretty convinced that he had died, as every report I got was bad.  As a paramedic, I know the odds of getting somebody back from where he was.  Pulseless V-fib, we call it.  Full blockage of the Widowmaker artery, the one that supplies blood to most of the heart.  Shocks were administered, eight right on scene before they even loaded him in the ambulance.  Drugs were administered, epinephrine and Amioderone meant to get his heart beating normally again.  Nothing was working. 
Dad was supposed to have been on a road trip with his brothers.  Headed to San Fransisco for some family business and bonding time.  But the business had been called off at literally the last minute, and Dad had gone to his “gym” that day instead.  His gym just happened to be the cardiac rehab gym in a facility that also had Mom’s dialysis and a medical clinic.  Remarkably, that day at the clinic, an ER doc and a cardiac nurse just happened to be filling in.  He ran the code and had made a call to the hospital ER where Dad was headed to give them a report.  He told that doctor not to expect much, as nothing was working.  The medics worked on Dad all the way to the hospital, with a couple more shocks and more meds.  They wheeled him into the ER still doing CPR and gave him another shock and even more meds.  That ER doctor consulted with everybody, and they all agreed that they would give Dad one more shock, his twelfth.  If that didn’t work, they would stop the code because they were just not going to get him back.
Well, that last shock worked.  By some miracle, it worked.  And over the past two weeks Dad went from being intubated, cooled to 91 degrees, balloon angioplasty to squeegee out the crap in the Widowmaker, and doped to the gills with drugs that helped him heal but also caused horrific nightmares, to sitting in his big blue chair in his house, flying my little toy helicopter, talking of nothing and everything, and recovering from his death. 
This of course has done nothing for my “sit around and procrastinate” self.  That’s the guy sitting in my head with several others, including the panicky “HOLY CRAP GET IT DONE NOW WHO CARES ABOUT THE QUALITY IT HAS TO BE FINISHED! GO! GO! GO!” guy.  I try to ignore him.  But there is also the “Time to Chase Those Dreams” guy, and the “Hey, call your friends and family and tell them you love them” guy.  And of course, the “Hey man, life is good” guy.  Lately he has been speaking loudly. 
“Life is Good” he says.  “Beautiful, loving wife.  Amazingly stunning kids that you couldn’t love more. Roof over head, food on table, family and friends that make every day so very sweet.   You’ve got a brain and some talent so go use it and have fun.  Enjoy this time, man.  It is fleeting and wonderful.  Oh, and let the dogs out to run more.”
So I listen to him.  I remember to see the world like my kids see it.  Full of amazing things in simple pleasures.  Dragonflies and seed sprouts and the flutter in my stomach that happens every time I see the beautiful smile of my wife.  And sitting with my father in his living room, flying my little toy helicopter, talking of nothing and everything, and recovering from his death. 
And it is right that we are here.  In the living room.  Living.  And my God how lucky I am to still have my father to spend time with.  To hear his wisdom and his wisecracks.  To hear his voice say “Hey bud.”  When for one hour on that Monday I thought he was gone, and now want nothing more than to spend time enjoying my time with him.
Life is too short to "what if" yourself in a negative way. What if I can't do it?  What if I suck?  What if I fail?  My project for this week is doing a good "What if" every day.  Today I thought to myself "Self... What if you accept that challenge to take a self portrait picture every day and actually do it and post it when you're done?" So I did.  What the heck.  My friend Wendy over at Wendelonia challenged, and life is too short not to accept a good challenge.  And I'm challenging my Dad, too.  And my other friends.  And what the heck, I challenge YOU, too.  Dad got a second chance at life.  I'm not waiting for a second chance anymore, I'm going to use the first chance.
Oh, and I'm going to let the dogs out to run more, too.


Steph said...

Ah, John... you went through the ringer and came out with some sweet tastin' perspective. Which, really, you always had, given that "life is good" guy inhabits you all the days of your life. There's something about those moments of panic and potential devastation that result in SUCH delicious and precious CLARITY. REAL. CLARITY.
Sometimes I think we spend so much time being afraid and not just of the failures and such that you listed but also of being CLEAR. Clarity rocks because in those instances you're sure, you're committed, you're SET. And then.... you actually KNOW what you need to do. Sometimes that in and of itself is frightening.
Lots of people get that moment of clarity (myself included here!!!) and then deal with a real FREAK OUT - "you mean I have to ACT now based on what I've learned??? WHAT THE HECK???"
You, John, do not appear to suffer from this ailment, which I find absolutely beautiful! You recognize what you have, have embraced Mr. "Life is good," and choose to savor your one & only life, LIVING IT authentically and simply with those whom you hold dear. AWESOME! And not in a totally-tubular, Valley-girl kind of way. I mean, truly awe-inspiring and amazing....
So glad your dad pulled through and that you and he can LIVE in the living room and "hey bud" you some more! That's the good stuff. Such. GOOD. stuff.
High fives, John COFFEE, and thanks for sharing this experience with us.

patresa said...

man oh man oh man. amazing. AMAZING! and a beautiful miracle. your dad just keeps teaching you, doesn't he?

so glad he is still here. so glad you have found something lovely and inspiring in the midst of a really brutal time.

Wendy said...

John, what a powerful post. I'm sooooo glad your dad is recovering - please give him a big hug for me. I tried to follow yours and Jason's FB posts on his progress, but I could only understand approx. 20% of what ya'll were talking about. ;-) Thanks for the layman's version.

I think it's incredibly cool that this horrific experience has become this pivotal, profound awakening for you and that, in turn inspires myself and others. I know I need to shut the "what if's" up in my own life. Thanks for the ref to Wendy's blog, too. What a great find and cool idea.

Tawni said...

This paragraph is powerful and amazing, John:

"This of course has done nothing for my “sit around and procrastinate” self. That’s the guy sitting in my head with several others, including the panicky “HOLY CRAP GET IT DONE NOW WHO CARES ABOUT THE QUALITY IT HAS TO BE FINISHED! GO! GO! GO!” guy. I try to ignore him. But there is also the “Time to Chase Those Dreams” guy, and the “Hey, call your friends and family and tell them you love them” guy. And of course, the “Hey man, life is good” guy. Lately he has been speaking loudly."

Wow. So true.

This post made me cry in the good way. We are so lucky to have every day we get, and I'm glad you get more of them with your dad. I'm so happy for you and for your dad's positive outcome.

I also accept your self-portrait-a-day challenge with open, brave, grateful-to-be-here arms. I'm going to post them on my blog. I think it will help keep me updating the blog regularly, and writing more often. Cool idea! Thank you. :)

amy said...

WOW. What an incredible story this is! As I read, I nodded my head at many parts. And I so love this phrase: "recovering from his death."

Life is really short. Really, really short--just yesterday, I was my daughter's age, and tomorrow she'll be mine. It really does go fast; I'm always shaking my fist at the Universe and shouting: "Why must You make it go so fast?!" And you are correct: we're so rarely given a second chance at it.

Whenever I read or hear stories like yours and your dad's, I always think: Man. Somebody Somewhere really wants us to focus. You got a big poke. But I kind of like to think that anyone reading your dad's story is maybe getting a gentle nudge. We're all learning together, from each other.

For example: I know I've got a "what if" to accomplish today...so glad I stopped by here today. Thanks, John! (And John's dad!)

Many blessings to him for a full and total recovery.

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

John, I am so glad your dad made it through this, and I'm so glad your family has you. Sounds like you are one of the solid ones out there. :) You are so right... life is amazing and precious. Thanks for all the what ifs......

Katie said...

Hi John. Holy mackerel. Or Yellowfin tuna, take your pick. As I read, I could feel, FEEL that I was there on the other end of the phone with you, panicking, because you know from your training exactly, painfully, how bad it really is. That hour can only have been truly frightening. It is such a pivotal event, those minutes when the worst is happening and then there is a reprieve. A new chance, a straw. My goodness.

Though nothing as traumatic or as final as your father, my father went through something similar this year (as similar as a 10 car pile-up is to a fender-bender) but enough to reassess my priorities and to reaffirm that he's my DAD, man. He's irreplaceable. Take advantage.

So glad you have been granted this time with him. What a scary thing.