Last week I was lying in a hospital bed, waiting to be wheeled down the hall for a colonoscopy (one of the fringe benefits of turning fifty, woo hoo!). I “busied myself,” if you can call it that, by visually absorbing my immediate environment. I noted the pastel plaid curtain around my little area, the machines with wires behind my head, the labels on the cabinets, and finally, the ceiling.
Looking at ceilings in doctors’ offices and hospitals is something I’ve done for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl and had to see my pediatrician for any reason, I used to look at the ceiling of the exam room and tell my mom (in these exact words), “There must be a MILLION dots all over this ceiling!”
I’m pretty sure that was my first exposure to a popcorn ceiling, and I’m pretty sure that was one of my earlier acts of figuratively sticking my head in the sand, acting like everything was fine and la la la.
Anyway, it made my mom laugh every single time. Over time it became a compulsion: I became convinced that the doctor wasn’t going to come in until I had done my little ceiling routine, and obviously being adorably hilarious to a parent is something kids enjoy. It was a good self-soothing method, too. To this day, whether a popcorn ceiling is present or not, looking up in a health care facility is just something I do.
While I was waiting last week I found myself wondering how I got there, or rather, here. To fifty, that is. It didn’t seem like it was that long ago that I was marveling at the popcorn ceilings in my pediatrician’s office. How has so much time gone by?
I didn’t come up with any concrete answer, other than “That’s life.” As John Lennon wrote in the song Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” I wouldn’t say I have been making other plans all this time and that’s what fast-forwarded me to fifty, but I know for sure that I’m not as good at living in the moment as I’d like to be. I need to be better at it, to try and slow things down.
The best we can do between birth and death is live our lives to the fullest extent: stop wasting time, enjoy the little things, learn as much as we can, love fully, and surround ourselves with people who lift us rather than drag us down, just to name a few good strategies. As my friend Tracey recently posted on her Facebook page, nothing is permanent. The good, the bad, it all ends eventually. Life is a gift and it’s our job to make the most of it.
That was the last thought I had on Colonoscopy Day while I was looking at regular old, mostly dotless industrial drop ceiling tiles before being wheeled down the hall. It felt good to be able to flip the script on myself. I don’t do measurable resolutions per se but I’m making a commitment to myself to conquer even more ground in 2019, enjoying as many moments while they’re happening as I can because nothing lasts forever. How about you?