Ever toss a live bullfrog into a pot of boiling water? Thank God you said “No,” because that visual disturbs me too. What’s even more disturbing though, is the fact that you could place that same frog into a lukewarm pot of water and slowly turn the temperature up one degree every hour until eventually, that frog croaks for good, not realizing what’s happened until it’s too late.
When Mother passed, the official diagnosis on the clipboard the hospice worker held read: “Failure to Thrive.” Being caught up in my life, my career, my relationships, I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of reaching a place in life where there’s simply no reason to carry on. How could this have happened to my mother? How could every bit of joy she once had, be so fully depleted? I can think of no bleaker diagnosis.
This isn’t about my mom though. Her life was in truth, vibrant and full of character. But when our bodies break down, death is inevitable. Yet, even in her passing, she provided one final lesson to me and to all who might listen: follow your bliss with fervor. Don’t let your children, your work, your government or anything in this world, curb you from what you know your heart desires–and never let them denote your passing with such a label.
When I first left home after high school, hoping to make my way in the world, I was given a book of trite cliché’s to keep in mind as I embarked on my personal path. The first of which as I recall, went something like: The thing about life is, no one get’s out alive. I remember thinking then of death as an abrupt and sudden jolt to our physicality. The concept of withering, eroding or having a sustained leak in a once full tank of bliss, never entered my mind. But as I age, I realize that death can happen years before we close our eyes for the last time.
I’ve only awakened to this subtle yet alarming realization this past year. It’s as if I’ve been lulled into a tepid bath of bliss-less boredom and unfulfilled goals, and largely it’s because of the choices I’ve made with regard to where I live and where I work.
I’ve allowed myself to become slow boiled.
The steady paycheck I’ve grown accustomed to (paltry as it is) has become a morphine drip. I know the world’s in crisis–even the rich worry about their precious investments–and it appears the Grapes of Wrath 2 is on the horizon. But I fear I need to leap-frog out of my stupor before they turn the water up another notch.
It’s ironic that our strongest muscle takes so much strength at times to follow, but if we’re brave enough to be true to ourselves, it’s the only way to thrive.