Sometimes I need a reminder to be thankful for what I have. And I have a lot.
I have a beautiful family. Yes, my kids have some medical issues, but they’re still wonderful kids (and by “wonderful” I mean “only drive me crazy 80% of the time”). I have a good job that (barely) pays the bills. I have a loving, intelligent, diligent wife who has her hands full keeping us all in line. I’m in terrific shape (save for my stupid calf muscles…I wonder if I can trade those in somewhere), we have a working car and can afford to pay our mortgage, and I get to write and share my books with the world. Some of you even buy them. ;D
It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. My biggest flaw is jealousy. Every time a fellow Indie author – my friends, mind you, people I interact with and promote and genuinely want to see do well – becomes suddenly successful where I still haven’t, I burn with envy. I don’t mean to. I really don’t. But I start trying to figure out what they’re doing that I’m not; I get angry because sometimes they haven’t been at this as long as I have, or because they seem to be finding this success effortlessly, while I’m busting my ass. I fume and I berate myself, and it makes my angry. Not the lack of success, so much, as my jealousy. Seriously, what is wrong with me? If I can’t learn some patience and diligence and just be happy for others, should I even be doing this? I work my ass off, often spending every hour outside of work writing, blogging, promoting, editing, and what do I have to show for it? Why do I even bother?!
I’ve had this debate with myself more than once. It happened again this weekend, and I spent more time in angst over what I could do to find the success I wanted than just doing the important things.
Like appreciating my family.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, my daughter has generalized epilepsy. We’ve been trying to get her seizures under control for years through a combination of techniques, mostly different drug combinations. There have been stretches where she’s been seizure-free for almost a year, and other times where she’s back to having a seizure every few weeks.
She’s been a trooper through it all. She’s weathered the storm, dealt with the sleepiness and side-effects of her medication, dealt with limitations on her social life (she isn’t allowed to drive, for example) and her stymied growth, both emotionally and scholastically. It’s been so long since she’s started having seizures I can barely remember the time before.
Lib is the one who deals with the reality more often than I do. She’s on the phone with the neurologist, with the pharmaceutical companies, with the school. She’s driving our daughter to doctor’s appointments, picking up prescriptions, trying to work with counselors to make sure our daughter gets a quality education with the assistance she needs.
I know it’s hard for my daughter. I don’t tell her often enough how proud I am of her.
Last night, as she was putting her laundry away, she had another seizure. Lib heard it happening, but I was closer, and I rushed to get to her, but just a second too late. She’d already fallen straight back and landed, head first, on the linoleum.
With so much attention paid to concussions these days, I was scared what might have happened. No, not scared…terrified. I’ve only been this afraid a couple of times in my whole life. Once was when I was in a car crash. Another was when my Mom called to tell me Dad had been taken to the hospital after he’d stopped breathing, and she didn’t think he was going to make it (and, as it turned out, she was right).
I put a lot on myself. I have a terrible habit of hoarding all the guilt. All I could think, over and over again, was that I should have caught her, was that I needed to have been there just a few seconds earlier. She’d fallen and hurt herself, and it was all my fault.
Of course it wasn’t – I see that now (after repeated smacks in the head from my wife). But that didn’t alleviate the guilt, which was maybe a bit easier for me to deal with than the fear. I just wanted my little girl (yes, I know she’s seventeen, she’s no longer a little girl, but she’s my little girl, and always will be) to be okay.
We got her to the ER once she’d recovered from the actual seizure…that always takes a while, and she’s quite groggy, sometimes even cute, as she tries to figure out what’s going on, what happened, and why we’re all staring at her. Lib had to get her dressed (she was in a robe when the seizure took place), and I understand that my daughter tried to put a shirt on over her robe. ;D
My hats off to our local hospital. They were quick and efficient and polite. The doctor looked like a body double for Patrick Dempsey in Gray’s Anatomy (my daughter wanted a picture of her catscan, so she asked the doctor “Could I get a picture?”, and he asked “Of me?”), and the guy who came to give her the catscan was a total country bumpkin (but in a very endearing sort of way). She was comfortable while my son (up many, many, many hours past his bedtime) played Angry Birds and watched Game 4 of the Spurs-Jazz series on my Kindle Fire, asking repeatedly if it was time to go yet and helpfully informing every person we met that he was the patient’s brother, and that she “Lost her mind” because she hit her head.
The catscan came back negative. She has nothing more to show for this ordeal than a bump on the noggin and a shortened night’s sleep (plus a day off, which we all felt was pretty warranted).
I took a lot more from it.
I obsess over stupid things. I always have. Sometimes I try to build them up and make them seem important so my obsession seems rational…but there are only a few things that are really, truly important. I know that, and knew it already. Sometimes I need a reminder.
So book sales be damned. Countless hours working myself to death be damned. I’ll do what I can do in the time I have, and I can say that from this point on I’m going to have a lot less time to work. I’m going to be allocating those hours to appreciating what I have now…what I was afraid I’d almost lost.
Sorry to go on so long. My point, for those brave few who might have made it this far, is this: don’t lose sight of what’s important. It’s easy to do. And, trust me, you don’t want it to take a near tragedy to bring those things back into focus. Spend what time you must on your work, whatever that work may be. Spend the rest appreciating what you have, and being thankful for it.