Health, Creativity and Life

I’ve recently picked up my physical activities by going back to the YMCA.  I’ve been taking spinning classes alternating that with swimming and some workouts on my own.  I had a bad case of the flu in February, and I’d forgotten the feeling of good health during my sick time.  After a lengthy and tenuous recuperation period, I began to appreciate what it feels like to be healthy.

It’s so humbling to do the simple things that keep life going smoothly.  With me, I found that I have a strong resistance to doing the simple things.  To do the simple things means:

  1. “showing up”
  2. “having the intention to work”
  3. “having the intention to push beyond my boundaries”
  4. “having gratitude to be able to do it”

 My good friend puts it this way (regarding working out), he said, “It’s a privilege to be able to work out”.  It is what he reminds himself when he does not feel the motivation to exercise.  Health is a privilege.  Creativity is a privilege.  Life is a privilege.

 Privilege defined:

  “a right or immunity granted as an advantage or favor esp. to some and not others.”    The Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people”      Oxford Dictionary

 Without getting into a political debate or philosophical debate, I just want to explore the depth of having the privilege to health, creativity and life.  I think it is becoming more of a privilege to have these things than a right.  Most people in our affluent society are born with good health, creativity, and naturally being born is life itself.  There are circumstances that occur that deprive some of us of these basic things.  The immediate circumstance that comes to mind is having the  financial ability to afford education, nutritious food, clean and safe habitation.  When I consider the hazards of living in Afghanistan or Syria, or anywhere else where to make a living is a hard struggle, then it is indeed, a privilege to be healthful, to be creative and to live as I am only able to imagine and will myself to be. 

Last week I was driving to work from my “annual” physical and it was busy in Beverly Hills, and people were driving like lunatics.  But I was relaxed.  Being over 40, I am now belong tothe group of women that needs to have a mammogram as part of my physical.  I put “annual” in quotes because this is my conversation with my doctor:

 Doctor:  “Hi Miss Revilla.” (He shook my hand while his other hand held my chart.) “It’s been a long time.”

Me:  “Not really.  2 years?”

Doctor looks down on the chart.

Doctor:  “Your last physical was in 2006. You came in 2009 for a cough, but you haven’t been back.”

Me (feeling sheepish):  “Wow, how time flies.”

 I have insurance coverage from work, but I have not gone for my annual physical, because I am of two minds on this:  One is, I wonder if there’s an insurance scam about the process, two, I really don’t like getting bad news. 

 Doctor:  “You didn’t go for your follow up mammogram in 2007.”

Me:  “I think I was out of the country.”

Doctor:  “Promise to go this time.  Otherwise my office gets these yellow cards that remind us it’s my responsibility to ensure my patients go for their checkups.”

Okay.  I promised to do so.  

A few days later, I showed up for my appointment at the Beverly Tower Women’s Center.  After the examination with its tricky maneuvers, holding poses and breaths, and squeezing my mammary glands between two cold plates of plastic, I told the technician, “Now I know why I didn’t go for my follow up.”  She laughed.  She told me to wait in a private lounge while the radiologist reviews the x-ray images.

 The last time I sat in that room was in 2006.  I had to to come back for follow up tests after the initial screening.  They explained after their intense diagnostics that the density of the tissues in my breast made it hard for them to see if something is abnormal.  This time around I thought, I’m sure everything is okay like the last time.  The technician returned.  “Analyn, the doctor wants to do an ultrasound.  Can you wait here please?”

 Of course I smiled, and nodded yes, but I thought, “Do I have a choice?”  Then I began to worry.  It’s been 7 years since my last examination, and I wonder if that little thing they found has turned into something not so little anymore.  The next minutes turned into agonizing moments.  “What if it’s bad news?”  Now, I reflect back on my thought process then, and how my mind prioritized what’s important to me.  I confess, I asked for the chance to spend time with my fiancé so I can make him happy. 

 After the appointment, as I drove back to the office I felt a sense of freedom, hence my relaxed state when there were people driving with little courtesy for others.  But I didn’t mind if someone changes lanes without using their turn signals, or if someone blocks the intersection during a change of lights.  The ease (lack of “dis”-ease, came from the freedom of knowing what truly matters in life to me.

Another female mentor spoke it well, when I described to her my experience at the doctor’s office.  My mentor is a survivor of cancer.  She said to me, “You definitely learn to pick your battles.”

The battle for me is working on the simple things:

  1. “showing up”
  2. “having the intention to work”
  3. “having the intention to push beyond my boundaries”
  4. “having gratitude to be able to do it”

 My simple things are to maintain health, to write, to play guitar, ride the motorcycle and to serve with love.

 I recently finished the book, “Tuesdays With Morrie”, by Mitch Albom.  I want to share some good quotes from it:

 “The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” – Morrie Schwartz

 “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” – Morrie Schwartz

Between 2006 and now I’ve changed in my attitude about the annual physical.  Even if I belived that the physical examination could be an insurance scam (and I don’t know the machinery behind all that), I choose not to mind being a tool for it, for the reason that my eyes were opened during those minutes in that waiting room to the gift of health, creativity and life.

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