The reactions of friends and acquaintances to the news of my diagnosis have been many and varied, but none of them have been unwelcome, even the ones that completely ignore the information and carry on exactly as before. This reaction might be saying, “I really don’t know what to say and maybe I’m a little embarrassed.” Interestingly, it is not just men who use this approach. And I don’t mind at all, because sometimes I don’t know what to say or feel, either.
Sometimes it is nice for things to be just the way they were.
Others will offer generalised help in the future, and this is reassuring. “If there’s anything I can do, just let me know.” I have heard others being cynical about such offers, but what else can people say, without blunderingly taking over my life?
And then there are those who give advice about how I should spend the days I have left! Eat this food; drink this liquid, take this drug; but most of all, make a bucket list. Live life to the full.
There are things I could put on a bucket list, but I’m not sure what they have to do with living life to the full. People who think living life to the full means doing lots of things are misunderstanding the meaning of living life.
Being in Japan for a bit would be on my list, for example, but spending two days in airports and on a plane to get there and back is not my idea of living life to the full!
No, the mad dash of the list of activities involves lots of discomfort and stress, and while it is happening you will be planning your next thing. Who lives life to the full in an airport lounge?
Living life to the full is something you need to do all the time, not just when you are actually looking at the Taj Mahal. Every second has become precious and unrepeatable. I want to spend as little time as possible in waiting rooms, cars, trains and planes. I want to live fully now and wherever I am.
So the bucket has only one thing in it. Now it is getting to be rather late in the day, learn to love life, with all its beauty, irritations, pain and change. When I look at or hear a tree, experience it as though I will never see one again. See and hear the world as though I will never be here again.
Remember always that you cannot step into the same river twice.