I felt terribly sad this week when I heard the news that Valerie Harper had an incurable brain tumor and probably only had about three months more to live. I had always loved the character of Rhoda Morgenstern from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and then later from her own show. Rhoda was someone I wanted to be friends with - pretty, funny, smart, and lots of fun. Even though I was a teenager when we first "met" I felt like she was a friend. So learning of her illness was a shock.
Since hearing about it, I've read things about Valerie Harper that say she is determined to enjoy her life NOW. Because she has learned the hardest way possible that living in the present should be the most important thing.
This is always hard for me to do. Without consciously realizing it, I'm always making plans for "when I ..." or "as soon as ..." When I do realize I'm doing this, I always get annoyed with myself. I tell myself that there is no reality in living my life only in the future, because there are no guarantees. And I don't even mean as far as still being alive goes - rather, I may never save enough money to do X, or lose enough weight to buy/wear X, etc. I like having goals, because I do better with some kind of structure to things, and having goals gives me something to work towards. But when the goal takes over, you miss everything happening right in front of you that day, hour, moment, etc. And that's sad, because you're right there, and not paying attention!
For a good part of my adult life, I've battled depression. Sometimes, just a slight amount, but often debilitating. Then I spent a LOT of time, thinking that "when I feel better ..." but one day it did occur to me that I needed to work on feeling better THEN and that it would mean I could/would do the things I was always wishing I could do. And it's still hard for me to remember. But if on any given day, I can remind myself that I am still here, still [relatively] healthy, with someplace to live, enough to eat, a great family, a job I like most of the time - well, you get the drift - then I can feel like I'm paying attention to the here and now. So many people have bigger problems, and they manage to get through the day and maybe even be happy. Maybe because getting through the day makes them realize they are alive, they can do it, they have LIFE.
And so, Valerie Harper's sad news reminds me once again to LIVE my life NOW, and appreciate that I can. I know I'll feel terrible when she dies, but I hope that I - and others, especially her own family - can take some comfort in knowing that when she could enjoy her life, she still did. Because, even if she learned the lesson the hard way, it is always a lesson worth learning.