A Follow-Up to “A Momento Mori” (found here).
I’m gonna talk about someone else today, a life entirely different from the one you read about in my last literary foray about death-come-knocking.
This guy’s name is William.
(not Bill, he doesn’t like being called Bill). I know William quite well as a patient and friend. I asked him to fill in some blanks for me so this wouldn’t be an empty page of a blog.
Around the same time that the universe started spewing an angry tirade of metaphorical and physical puzzles into my life (Summer 2016), the universe had also decided to serve up the exact opposite to William. He had hit cruising altitude and the skies were clear. As a friend, this was pretty cool to see, even though I was admittedly jealous. I am going to try and not give away too many specific, for privacy sake, since a lot of my friends will know him, but here’s the story…
August 2016: In a conversation over beers (for him, not me, since I don’t drink), William proceeds to divulge more info about his marriage than he had ever let out before. We had good conversation about what makes a marriage healthy, why divorce is so rampant in our culture, and what men should be doing to create the best atmosphere possible for their spouses. William and I both end the conversation with the realization that the women in our lives are quite possibly the only things we care about more than our kids (he has two, I only have one). When we connected again a few months later, William can’t hold in that his marriage, despite being between two completely flawed human beings, has never been stronger than it has been since that conversation.
September: William visits a Functional Medicine Doctor just for the hell of it. Much to my chagrin, he finds out that he’s essentially in perfect health; at worst he is maybe working a little bit too hard. Living the health dream, he is. At the time, I assumed I was in the same boat.
October: Wanting to spend more time with his family, William orchestrates two huge forward leaps in his life. First, a business deal goes awry that would have had him flying to the other side of the world repeatedly. He chooses to let it fall to the wayside. Cha-ching, more time with the fam due to not travelling. Second, he off-loads one of his volunteer positions for whom they had found a better fit. Boom. More family time again.
November: William’s business is doing quite well. What’s even better, is that it’s doing well with less hours than he expected. New software, some more free time, and a few more team members all make running the business a breeze. Most notably, he’s off the tools and focusing on growing the business itself, saving his back and hands in the process.
December: William decides to take 2 weeks off the have a Christmas Holiday for once. He spends most of this time in Revelstoke, where he gets to ski more than he has in the last 2 years combined. Also in December, he finds out that he’s essentially got a free vacation coming through one of the suppliers he constantly works with through business. Booyaka.
January 2017: With a renewed sense of vigor from a rejuvenating end to 2016, he hits the ground running in 2017, lifting weights with a new personal trainer, working slightly less, and puts plans in place to complete his first trip to Europe since highschool, when he went to Germany with his parents. Also, he makes some good friends on a chairlift in Revelstoke and gets invited to go on a back-country touring trip in the Purcells (a mountain range) near the end of the season. Now even I am getting jealous.
February: Buys touring gear for said trip, and starts practicing touring with a friend in the area around Kelowna to get ready. Also, he gets a puppy who profusely poops on everything in sight. He hates animals (I almost unfriended him when he told me this in such overt fashion), but keeps it because his kids love it so much.
March: His wife, who has been training for a little while, decided to run her first ever race. It’s longer than she ever thought she could do, and yet she finishes it without dying. He, on the other hand, is not “into” running (one of the reasons we are friends).
April: Touring trip! 4 days in Purcells with good buddies and no avalanches makes for a pretty memorable cabin-to-cabin experience. Again, I am stupid with jealousy.
May: Europe! I am not as jealous of this one because William is generally going to places I have already seen (did I mention that I get minor degrees of adventure FOMO?). But William has a blast with his wife on the other side of the planet, sans kids, while Gramma and Grandpa watch the munchkins. Apparently Tuscany was a highlight, but as a non-drinker, I can’t exactly relate, but good for him.
June: The aforementioned “vacation” from a work supplier occurs. Seriously, what a dick, right? Can’t people pay for my vacations at some point? I think it was to Arizona or something. But seriously. Send me to wherever. I’m in.
July: He gets to spend a good chunk of time at the family cabin (where he and I caught up and had the conversation that lead to this blog). Yeah, he’s also got a family cabin. He’s that guy. You don’t know if you want to punch him or marry him, you know?
August: I ask him a million questions before writing this blog. He was not allowed to invoke any more jealousy on my behalf, so I stop him from telling me, well, anything besides clarifying tidbits.
Of course a guy in his shoes would be happy, healthy, and grateful. And he was, according to his wife.
So naturally, any guy in my shoes should a) be stoked to have a friend who seems to be getting his life together and willing to allow a friend some introspection in the process, and b) be horribly jealous at the same time. But, I was not either of those things. You know why? Because…as you may have guessed…
I am William.
Yyyyyyyyyup. That’s actually my father’s middle name. Naturally, I changed a few details in there in hopes that you wouldn’t get to this epiphany too quickly.
So here’s the major story changes, to align closer with my reality:
- Functional Medicine Doctor = Naturopath (Thanks Dr Barlow)
- Volunteer offloading = I sold my clinic, significantly decreasing my stress load.
- Revelstoke = I went heli-skiing for free
- Paid vacation to Arizona = Paid vacation to Mexico
- Europe = China
- Wife’s race = Great Wall of China Marathon (which she won. She’s that chick.)
- Touring Trip = more free heli-skiing for me
- Family Cabin = the woods and a rented cabin
- 2 kids = 1 kid
- Pooping puppy = pooping infant
Other than those details, that has basically been the last year of my life. I really hope you see what I am getting at here. The point of this whole shebang:
You’ve gotta be willing to let stress and excitement coexist. Most people let a bad week, financial distress, work drama, or pretty well any stressor depict their emotional state.
…and that, my friends, is the quickest route to a deplorable story of a life.
Stress in every form, overt and insidious, chronic or acute, emotional or physical, has the potential to ruin you, or you can agree to disagree with the cosmos.
And that’s exactly what I have done in the last year. My patients would tell you that I haven’t seemed off one bit (I hope) and, if anything, I have been having a bigger impact on many of my patients through clarification of my own emotional processes. Heck, I have had quite a few people even tell me that I looked happy and healthy who had never before mentioned such. Last week, I was told I looked younger than said person remembered me.
Frankly, the last year has been one of the best of my life. I have snowboarded 30+ days, paddleboarded 50+ days, decreased my stress load, eaten extremely healthy, had more sex, spent more time with my daughter and wife, and experienced 2 countries I have never seen before. I have ventured into the mountains and backcountry, taught and learned more than ever before, and all while feeling like I am doing “less”.
Now, I’m going to let you in on some more information that you likely did not know about the last year of my life: it was even worse than you can imagine, healthwise. It literally writes like a crappy novel with an itinerary of far-fetched problems.
In December I subluxated my left shoulder for the first time in 12 years. Ironically, this happened the day before hosting a world-renowned expert on the shoulder.
On Boxing Day, I smashed my spine on a tree while snowboarding and could barely walk for weeks. The bruising lasted almost 3 months and I still have swelling to this day above my right lateral glute.
In May, upon return from China, I came down with hand-foot-mouth disease, what 2 different doctors described as “the worst case I have seen in my entire career, and I’ve been practicing for over 50 years.” 75% of the skin on the bottom of my feet proceeded to burn off from the inside out. I still can’t walk barefoot on carpet without discomfort.
In July, what was previously thought to be a lipoma, turned out to be an infected sebaceous cyst. When a lump on your back triples in size in less than 48 hours, even when it’s been there 7 years, you pay attention. I had to be in the doctors office every 2 days for this one. I could barely use my left arm and could barely move my head for about 2 weeks. I now have a hole the size of a gunshot wound in my back.
For anyone interested, I’ll link up some pics and vids at the end so you can see some of the carnage…although I did show a lot of people my black and blue butt-crack at one point, there’s no evidence of that one remaining, haha
Now, I am hoping that you hear me loud and clear when I say,
This was STILL one of the best years of my life.
When you choose to let the good and the bad coexist, you leave room for magic. When you choose to place a lot of good in your life, the bad will still affect you, but the grip it has on your life loosens tremendously. It’s your life and your prerogative. Ben had a fantastic year last year, but it wasn’t because of the lack of problems. It was completely due to my unwavering commitment to giving good room to exist in my life.
After all, the bad never stops. There will always be more crap coming down the pipeline. So why not choose to let good and bad coexist?
Until next time.
Picture of foot at onset of HFMD.
Video of the sebaceous cyst finally erupting.(2:24 running time)
So much to like about this! It would be easy to say that I would like to be you when I grow up, but I’m already older than you and I’m perfectly content with being myself. However, I still believe that you are an old soul in a young body, and I have a great deal of respect for you. And I still kind of hope to be half the person you are one day! 😉
Thanks for the insight into your struggle and joy, I’ve enjoyed a couple of conversations with you and look forward to seeing you and having a chance to talk some more. You do seem like an old soul to me, with a calm and genuine joy about you. Hope to see you lifting again sometime.
Sincerely a casual gym acquaintance.
Any time you want to chat, I am always looking to surround myself with good people. Every single friend I’ve got in Kelowna started as either a patient or a casual gym acquaintance.
I’m confident I’ll be able to lift heavy and hard again in the near future.