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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lessons My Dad Taught Me

Several times recently, my eldest daughter has expressed her desire to do everything she possibly can. She wants to make the best use of every single second of the day. She does not want to waste even an hour of her precious time.

I can understand that. I used to feel the same way. To be honest, I still do.

When I was in high school, we read Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. One line burned itself into my memory: "As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."

Even then, I understood how precious, and valuable, time is to us. I knew that wasted time is lost forever and how we use our time affects the very fabric of our being.

I remember the day when I came face to face with the fact that I can not do everything.

I was a sophomore in college and I could not figure out how to juggle two conflicting activities, both of which I really wanted to do.

I called my father.

I knew my father, the man who could solve any problem in the world, could help me solve this one.

I sat on my bed, and explained why it was imperative that I find a way to do both activities (neither of which I can remember now).

After listening patiently, my father's response was straight and to the point: "you cannot do both."

"But Daddy...." I pleaded, needing him to understand, needing him to to solve my dilemma!

He understood.

Now he needed me to understand.

There are times in life when we cannot do everything we want, no matter how hard we try; sometimes we have to choose.

The most difficult choices in life are not between right and wrong -- those choices are easy; the correct decision is clear. The most difficult decisions are choosing between right and right.

It has never been easy for me to give up something that I want to do.

Perhaps the hardest part of cancer, for me, is the additional limitations that it places on my time and energy.

I want to do more, not less.

I have never been good at accepting my limitations.

To this day, my father admonishes me for trying to do "too much."

Once, my father sat with me, and tried to help me create a schedule out of all that I wanted to do and all that I needed to do.

There were not enough hours in the day to do everything.

My father thought the conclusion was obvious: I have to cut things out of my "to do" list.

My solution: throw out the schedule!

I do not want to "slow down."

I have to, but I do not want to.

Like my daughter, I want to do everything that I can.

Perhaps it is folly.

Which brings me to the second quote that burned itself into my memory in high school: "And still I persist in wondering whether folly must always be our nemesis." (Edgar Pangborn)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


Daria said...

It's difficult to slow down when you're a 'go getter'. It's a struggle.

Nice story to remember about your father.

Cheryl Pitt said...

Your father sounds like a very wise man. What a great relationship!

Those are great quotes, you must have gone to a well rounded school. I don't remember reading anything quite so stirring in high school.

rickismom said...

,,HUGS>> It is SO hard to accept those limitations!

RivkA with a capital A said...

Daria -- thanks.

I find that I am often pulled in two directions, by the desire to be constantly "out and about." but also the desire to stay at home, in my PJ's, just bumming around (internet, TV, reading).

I could not do the latter every day, but I can do it a lot (especially if I am feeling tired or in pain).

Cheryl -- I went to a really awesome Alternative High School. I should probably post about it some day.

I loved going to school there. It was a good place for smart kids (and teachers) who did not "fit the mold."

Ricki's mom -- it sure is!! hugs help! :-)

arnie draiman said...

good advice, good man, your abba. now,one note: your solution ("throw out the schedule") is very much like james t. kirk's solution in order to graduate from the academy. (and if you don't know, ask moshe - he will be happy to explain).

A Living Nadneyda said...

Oh, how I can relate to the time thing... I've come to the conclusion that some people are "pack rats" when it comes time for scheduling -- "So much to do, so little time" is their constant drive.

I feel this way all the time -- without cancer. I can only imagine...

Anyone want to petition G-d for a 28-hour day (and a lot of other things as well)?

I wish for you that you should always feel satisfaction from the things you choose to do, and not regret the things you don't.

Sarah said...

Keeping it simple is a good life motto which I am still trying to wrap my head around. Illness brings that into our faces- that we better build simplicity, or life will just get too hairy and unmanageable. Thoreau was the extreme example of that. I really think that illness, for me, has helped me to prioritize and keep things simpler. This after two years, though- it took a while to sink in. I just wrote about this tonight, myself. parallel universe?? :-)
Lots of hugs!!!

Karin said...

I sooo get what you're saying. One of the best and worst things of having cancer is being forced so slow down. Way down. Sometimes it means being forced to a grinding halt. But I have finally learned (well almost anyway!) from slowing down. I love what you father said about choosing between right & right!

RivkA with a capital A said...

Arnie -- I take the comparison as a compliment! (though I am not sure I agree that the solutions are similar)

ALN -- amen!!

Sarah -- parallel universes! pretty interesting how many times it happens to us....

Karin -- funny how some of the lessons we learn from cancer are so positive and yet so frustrating, all at the same time.