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This IS Your Life August 15, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Mindfulness, People.

I don’t remember where I first heard, read, or saw this story, and the particulars are a bit murky, but it’s worth sharing:

A young woman with everything going for her had a serious accident.  In an instant, her entire life changed.  Instead of being out and about shopping and dining with friends, she lay bed-ridden, in a hospital, riddled with pain.

All her hopes, dreams, and plans for the future lay dead and dying around her as she stared at the ceiling day after day, discouraged and frustrated by her limitations.

Nurses tried to cheer her up to no avail. 

One afternoon, a new nurse appeared at her bedside to check her vital signs.  The nurse asked the young woman how she was feeling.

In response, the patient screamed, “How do you think I’m feeling?  What are you, a moron?  Being in pain sucks.  Being in the hospital sucks.  Everything sucks.” 

Then, with a deep sigh, she whispered, “I just want my life back.”

With that, the nurse leaned in and said in a kind voice, “This IS your life.”

Hearing those four words, the patient finally “got it.”  She realized that she had to make a choice: continue to wallow in regret for a past that was now beyond her reach, or accept the “what is” and move forward with her life.

She chose to move forward.

* * * * *

“Life is what happens while we’re busy making plans.” ~ John Lennon


1. Paula - August 15, 2010

I have a perspective on this story that is perhaps unique to your other readers. I have been in both positions: the “victim” and the “nurse.” Not everyone who is socked with a life-changing reality necessarily goes through the “I wish,” “I want,” or “If only” phase, and some manage to avoid feeling sorry for themselves.

Speaking as someone who has been through it all, I will say that at certain times during the process and progress of illness and near-death, there was a part of me that screamed indignantly, “WHY???” I really meant, “Why?” Not just “Why me?” but “Why anybody?” The answer was a long time coming, and while it has managed to satisfy my own peculiar curiosity, it is an answer that brought me up short and woke me up. That answer is. “Because it is.”

Life simply IS! In whatever place you find yourself, there you are…there are no two ways about it, and if you can manage to have someone as wonderful as the nurse in the above story or a family member, or an answer to prayer come to you, you are indeed blessed to know what I believe the secret of life is. You don’t have to like it, love it, hate it, or ignore it, because whatever it is, it IS!

My happiness and contentment came in finally acknowledging that whatever I have, as onerous as it may seem at times, it is what I have and it is an opportunity to shine or flicker out. Life is a series of choices. I don’t always make what I think are the right ones, but then again, who’s to know? I will say that I have been guided step by step through the consequences of the choices I have made, and because of that, I don’t tend to worry about whether what I am going to do is right, but I do stop and consider whether I’m willing to pay whatever the price that may be asked of me.

I have had the opportunity on a few occasions (when asked) to answer such questions as “What have you got to be so happy about?” or “Why aren’t you a basket case in some mental institution?” My answer is very similar to that young nurse’s. This is what I have to deal with, this is my life, and I choose to be happy. Easy choice for me! The beauty of that choice is that anyone can make it!

Lest this sound too simplistic, please know that I really do understand how difficult such a choice can be – you have to relinquish so much control, and give up so many different complaints – and for me that was huge! I HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO BE A GREAT COMPLAINER! Also, most importantly, this is a choice I must make every day in every moment of my life, in whatever given circumstances. I am more successful on some days than others, but I am on that journey. There was a poem by an author unknown to me that was on my parents’ refrigerator for as long as I can remember, and it is still written indelibly on my mind:

“Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
and clowns who caper in sawdust rings
and common people like you and me
are builders for eternity?
Each is given a bag of tools, a lump of clay, a book of rules,
and each must build, ere life has flown,
a stumbling block or a stepping stone.”

I’ve built a few stumbling blocks for myself. I’ve decided to spend time on the stepping stones!

nrhatch - August 15, 2010


I love it when the comments are better than the original post.

Thanks, Paula!

2. Paula - August 15, 2010

Thanks, Nancy…I’ve finally managed to get a post up on my blog today – the explanation for the delay, and the few and far-between comments from me on your and other blogs is there. I love this post of yours!

nrhatch - August 15, 2010

Cool. I’ll check it out shortly.

Thanks again for your thought-provoking comment. We are what we think:

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heav’n of Hell, or a Hell of Heav’n. ~ John Milton

nrhatch - August 15, 2010

Paula ~ Having read your latest blog post, I’m even more WOWed by your comment above.

Ladies and Gents . . . Paula took the time to type out that eloquent comment with ONE HAND TIED BEHIND HER BACK!!!

Well, not exactly, but she is typing with only one hand at the moment.

Paula ~ Hope you recover from your wrist surgery in short order so you can return both hands to the keyboard to share your wisdom with the world.

3. Paula - August 16, 2010


4. Naomi - August 16, 2010

What a great post, and comment, Nancy & Paula. Thank you! I shall read Paula’s post just now 🙂

One of my closest friends comes immediately to mind, who suffered an inconceivable accident 2 years ago. She was knocked over by a bicycle while walking across a road. No injuries, but one, to her brain. Strikingly lovely, she appears ‘perfect’ but for some confusion at times, and not being able to speak, bar a handful of words. The conversion of thought into language is what eludes her, making writing impossible too. Not physically, but finding the words to put onto paper. Somehow she copes with her ‘now’ life, loving her husband, two young children, family and friends, as much as ever. Huge frustrations surface of course, but so does her stunning smile, unfailingly.

It’s deeply humbling to be reminded of how much we take for granted, so thank you again.

A big hug to you both,


nrhatch - August 16, 2010

Thanks, Naomi.

What a wonderful reminder to not take the “simple” process of putting words on paper (or screen) for granted.

So glad that your friend’s still sharing her stunning smile with the world ~ even when we can’t have everything we WANT, life often provides everything we NEED.


5. Paula - August 18, 2010

Now that you read my thoughts on what Life Is, perhaps you might want to check out an earlier post of mine called “Grief Simply Is.” Found at:

nrhatch - August 18, 2010

Interesting post, and I expect that many would agree with you that grief is a hole that can never be filled ~ that we just learn to maneuver around it:

A terrible hole is carved out of a grieving soul’s heart, and it is a hole that can never be filled, or gotten over, but it is one that you learn eventually to accommodate into your life. As time passes the joyful remembrances can block out or dull the sharp feelings of loss.”

I’m not sure I agree. We are socialized that way ~ taught to view our attachments (and grief) as something worth hanging on to. We are made to feel guilty for letting a loved one go.

We can view the flow of life differently, however. And when we do, the grief dissipates entirely ~ at least that’s been my experience.

6. Paula - August 18, 2010

Point taken, however, I contend that accommodating your loss is a way of moving on to memory as opposed to grief. Holding on to a loved one does not mean necessarily holding on to sadness, but embracing what they meant to you during their lifetimes. BUT, grief is a reality, and comes and goes through our experiences. It should be acknowledged, and then when the time is right, it will move on and transform as we do.

In other words I’m not convinced that it disappears so much as it morphs…(for want of a better word.)

nrhatch - August 18, 2010

Well, I can’t speak to anyone else’s experience, but my “grief” has dissipated entirely.

I don’t mean that I have forgotten my loved ones, just that there is no longer any sadness from their passing.

7. Paula - August 19, 2010

Uh oh! We’re getting into another one of our “semantical debates!” Guess we can leave it at that – except for me to say – “I get ya!”

nrhatch - August 19, 2010

I can’t decide if we are saying the same thing in different ways, or not. I got most of your post, I just didn’t agree with:

“A terrible hole is carved out of a grieving soul’s heart, and it is a hole that can never be filled, or gotten over, but it is one that you learn eventually to accommodate into your life.”

Although your post says that grief “is a hole that can never be filled or gotten over,” you seem to backtrack from that rather definitive statement in your explanatory comments to me.

In my experience ~ the black hole of grief gets smaller and smaller and eventually disappears . . . if we let it. At that point, the “grief” is gone and happy memories remain.

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