I don’t think there was ever a handbook written on knowing when the “good things come to those who wait” approach to life was more appropriate than the “no time like the present” philosophy, but I think we generally make it up on our own, based on what life throws at us.
One of my cousins has been very encouraging over the last several years that when it comes to writing, there really is no time like the present. When he first started making that suggestion to me, I was perhaps not far along enough in my career journey to fully appreciate the advice, especially since I was still finding my voice in the corporate world, eager to please and eager to make a name for myself. But add a few more years into the mix and some life-changing experiences and I fully acknowledged the wisdom of his words.
Clearly I was not about to jump ship at work since it was a steady source of income plus I realized how the day-to-day writing opportunities offered by my career were indeed honing my skills and developing my craft for later in life. But nonetheless, the more creative content I have accumulated in my journals and in my head along the way will guarantee at least a decade without writer’s block.
What has me significantly more jet-propelled in focusing on my passion for writing and getting my stories to print is the motivation that comes from dodging the “C” bullet twice… Cancer.
The first time was in my early 30’s where the self detection of a lump the size of a grain of corn had me calling for a doctor’s appointment as soon as the doctor’s office opened the next morning. Fortunately there was a cancellation and I jumped on it. The doctor did not want to take chances (from what I recall, they don’t mess around with a suspicion of testicular cancer) and had me see a specialist and go for an ultra sound. In total, that was three medical appointments over four days… If that expediency doesn’t make your life flash before your eyes and make you think of what you would have done differently, I don’t know what would. When the official diagnosis came, “It’s nothing… You’re fine” I really did not know what to do first. Kiss the ground? Run out of the examination room yelling “Woo-Hoo!”? Laugh? Cry? Celebrate? But that overwhelming sense of relief and freedom is one that I will never forget and must always remember to never take for granted.
The second bullet came a couple of years ago in the form of two unusually red spots on my chest. On a routine visit to have a spa procedure (I call it “scheduled maintenance” for the face), the fellow who was taking gentle care of my skin looked at my chest and calmly suggested I might want to get those checked out. I did and my family doctor referred me to a dermatologist who referred me to a plastic surgeon and the consensus was clear: those two suckers were coming out. The lab confirmed that they were indeed the most common, most treatable form of skin cancer, but cancer nonetheless.
The plastic surgeon did a great job at sewing me up so that the scars would not show too much, but it would nonetheless take time to heal. Frankly, I am glad it took the time it did because the sight of those scars was a daily reminder of how temporary and fragile life is, and that you never know when the next diagnosis might not be so common or so treatable. I have visited the dermatologist twice since, and every “No new spots to watch” diagnosis, is met with internal high-fives and woo-hooing!
I am very lucky that I escaped both with only a couple of scars and a few moments of extreme anxiety, which frankly isn’t the worst thing since I clean when I am coping with stress – my house was never cleaner in both situations! But ultimately, those two steps along the journey really helped me focus on my passions, my priorities and my calling.
I believe that those are the whispers (or yells) from the universe we need to listen to in order to determine for ourselves if there really is no time like the present, or if good things can come to those who wait… As long as we don’t wait too long.