Last year around this time, my son and I limped with my sick husband to our local hospital with a seemingly unrelated set of symptoms: excruciating back pain and a cut on the back of his foot from a new pair of shoes he was breaking in that week.
Within two hours after arriving at the hospital, he was transferred from the emergency room to the cardiology critical care unit because of a staph infection that had taken hold of his body (and heart rate) with swift vengeance.
The task in front of me was crystal clear. In an instant, I was firing on all my best cylinders:
1) Protecting my kids from the unknown.
2) Endearing myself to the mounting number of cardiologists and specialists (13 in total) that would become part of his care team.
3) Enlisting and giving over what I was not good at to my family members and friends based on their expertise.
4) Asking for help to manage my mental health.
5) Dusting off my near favorite activity: hands-on nursing a loved one back to health.
- Have you had that experience of seeing your best, most competent, most loving self, break through the clutter of your day-to-day thoughts and actions?
- What would it feel like to have that sensation without a harrowing emergency?
- Are you losing that part of you because you’re pulled in a million directions, overfed with distracting news about others, in our world of open access to all things?
- Is it just a matter of taking the time to mine your essence?
My husband almost died twice during his two-week hospital stay. His spirits and stamina were utterly shattered as he endured insufferable pain in his lower back day-after-day that we later learned was harboring the stubborn staph bacteria. Watching a man use every ounce of strength to persevere is both humbling and inspiring.
As a survivor of what only can be described as your worst nightmare, my husband is a changed man. He is putting the usual clutter aside and living most days as an advocate for himself: pursuing the activities and lifestyle that nourish him as a professional, a hobbyist, a father, a friend, and a husband.
As a witness and caretaker, I too am different. My highest, best self-came pouring through that hospital entrance day after harrowing day and in hindsight, I am proud of how present I was with the best Sheilah leading the way.
I now have a hobby when walking the streets of New York of looking into the eyes of passers-by and wondering: have you ever had the opportunity to see your best self in action in an instant? And if not, are you missing something without that personal agency?
As we head into the holiday season, I hope you share conversation with loved ones about your best selves.
Ask around your Thanksgiving table, what’s the one challenge or problem your friends or family would come to you to solve?
That’s a sure fire way to start clearing the clutter.
All my best,
Founder & CEO, The Summit