Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 20 comments
As I write this, a work colleague is losing her year-long battle with lung cancer. Her son had written last night to say she was unresponsive and likely to pass on in the next day or so.

What has impressed me most about her final months has been her determination to keep on editing, even when she needed to nap frequently and struggled to type e-mails. It's been kind of a kick in the head, especially when I think how badly I've responded to setbacks by doubting, getting derailed, moping. Especially lately, even while this amazing, dying woman was giving such a clear picture of how to be alive--by moving forward.

I honestly had gone into blogger a few minutes ago thinking I'd recycle an older post, and then I realized that was the stuckness talking. I can't go on borrowing from yesterday's energy, or last year's or some golden age in the past. There's a degree to which the stuff of creativity--joy, life energy, what have you--is like manna in the wilderness. It is a gift that must be gathered fresh daily. God gives it, but we have to gather it. We can't hoard it. There's enough for today. Just enough. We take in the mystery with thankfulness, and tomorrow there's more.

If you were dying, how would you live differently now? How might the idea of manna help you in your creative work?

20 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your friend, but her drive to keep on working is inspirational. I hope that I'd continue to go on as she does, because when something like that happens, should be about the joy in life, and writing is what makes me happy.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They really resonate with me. Your courageous friend needs to know how much she has encouraged other people.

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  3. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. She is an inspiration.
    I would live with a more positive outlook and would charge forward instead of dwelling on the negative.
    Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Wow, such a powerful and thought-provoking post, Laurel. Your friend is a strong woman. I love the idea of living forward and gathering manna one day at a time. FORWARD!

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  5. So sorry to hear about your friend. It does help grab perspective, doesn't it? I don't know if I would work at all; I might opt to spend time with my family.

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  6. Beautiful post, Laurel. Actually, I've had three surgeries and treatment for cancer, so I try to find the silver lining in my days (not that I always succeed--the mind is a tricky creature). The best thing any of us can do, as you say, is to gather the stuff of joy and creativity daily.

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  7. Posts like yours remind me of how much I take for granted and how I need to stop worrying about unimportant things. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. My heart goes out to you, your friend and her family.

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  8. Jenna: she really loved most to use her gifts to help other academics' work shine. Hard to believe she's gone.

    Yat-Yee: She was always very reluctant to accept praise and now we can only share it with her children.

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  9. Christine: Me, too. I've been reading with some friends a book called One Thousand Gifts that's about gratitude being key to living more fully. Might resonate with you as it has been with me (I'm only on chapter 3 so far).

    Shannon: I'd been groping around for a useful metaphor and that one came to mind. When I reread the story in Exodus, I was reminded about how manna had to be gathered daily. It would be full of worms if they hoarded. It was an aha moment.

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  10. Karen: she was a retired academic who put in just a few hours a week from home, but was actively engaged in discussing submissions right to the very end. She said it kept her feeling alive to still contribute what she could.

    Tricia: I can only imagine how hard it must be to live today with today's energy when facing a health crisis like cancer. The morsels of joy that come then are indeed a divine gift.

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  11. Jamie: I was having a pretty low day when I first got the news of her impending death, and it definitely got me rethinking my own minor inconveniences and setbacks in a new light. My daily blessings, too.

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  12. I am sorry to hear about your friend. A very thought-provoking post. A friend of mine just went through her second chemo treatment today for breast cancer. When she was first diagnosed I remember thinking "what am I doing with my time?" I struggle with priorities. Everyday, every moment is a gift from God and we dishonour if we do not use His gift. Thanks for the reminder.

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  13. I'm sorry to hear about your friend, but it sounds like she lived life to the fullest. That's something I aspire to do.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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  14. Wow. I'm so sorry to hear about this. It must be very hard on you. I absolutely love how you say we should stop 'borrowing from yesterday's energy,' I've never thought about it before. Something actually clicked and made me pause. Wow. Okay. Thank you for posting this. I think you've just helped me overcome some hurdles I've been struggling with!

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  15. I'm sure there are changes I'd make, it's inevitable. And hitting doldrums of writing happens, you'll get through it.

    Sorry to hear about your friend. I can't believe she's still working.

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  16. I really loved your analogy to the manna in the wilderness, how it had to be collected each day and couldn't be stored up. There is truth with that in so many aspects of life. Writing is very much an act of faith.

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  17. Lynn: nothing like facing the reality of how finite our lives are to make prioritizing time loom large. I really resonate with what you said about honoring the gifts God gives. So true.

    Stephanie: She did indeed. Living fully at this stage of life for me is going to look different than it did for my colleague who was in her 70s, but it is surely something to aspire to.

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  18. Jessica: Glad to hear that this post helped with your hurdles. I've had a huge problem lately with wanting to hang onto past successes and not being brave enough to face today's failures on the road to tomorrow's successes. (Does that make any sense?) Change starts with being present here, now.

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  19. Laura: Thanks for the encouragement. My colleague was an empty-nester retiree, and continuing to do some editing helped her feel useful and alive.

    Margo: Thanks. It is easy to get overwhelmed with what a huge task writing is, how much it demands of us. Remembering we need to just be faithful in the moment today is very freeing.

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  20. There's nothing like dying that makes us want to keep on living. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. She is a reminder to us all to find passion and contentment in each day.

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