Friday, 5 September 2014

Left Behind Luggage

There are a lot of things that ALS has taken from me, a lot of losses. This disease is also teaching me a few things along the way, lessons which I wish I had learned many years ago, lessons about enjoying the moment, finding the humour, accepting help. One of the greatest lessons for me so far has been about time.

One would think that having a limited life span, a future of only about 16 to 20 months so the medicos say, would make me anxious about time, determined to get the most out of every moment, every instant of it. It has, but not in the way one might expect. What I have learned about time is that, as a finite and ever wasting resource, there are just two ways to "spend" it. You can spend it joyfully, taking everything that every moment has to offer, or you can spend it grudgingly, finding distress in everything that takes time from you.

Yesterday is a good example of what I mean by this. David got up earlier than me, letting me enjoy some extra time to rest in the morning. It was precious and so kind of him to do this for me. As we left the hotel, much later than he would have liked, he took my luggage out to the truck with me wheeling alongside. He had just placed it at the back of the truck, ready for loading, when I asked him for help with the transfer board so I could slide over to the passenger seat. He brought out the board and got me seated, put the board in the back seat, hopped in the truck himself and we took off, leaving my luggage unnoticed, standing there in the parking lot.

It was about an hour later, roughly halfway to Yellowstone Park, our intended feature destination for the day, when David stopped to take some scenery pictures of a beautiful lake along which we were driving. While out there, David went to get a couple of drinks from the cooler in the back of the truck. That is when he noticed that my luggage was no longer traveling with us. He returned to the front of the truck and asked me if I "had any sharp objects".  I gave him my pocket knife, wondering what was going on. He then said "Your luggage is back in the hotel parking lot at Idaho Falls".

I don't know what reaction he was expecting, but I burst out laughing. It was just like some slapstick buddy movie. I could see nothing but humour in the situation in spite of the many hours of lost time that this might have represented to someone else. I could find no annoyance within me, no critique or judgement of the situation. It was my fault as much as his, perhaps more. And it was just plain funny.

A younger me would probably have been angry about the lost time, the damaged schedule. I would have spent hours criticizing myself, telling myself that I was "stupid" for this truly human mistake. I would have made the drive back resenting every minute that I was "losing". Of course the truth is that we lost no time yesterday; there were the same number of hours, the same number of minutes in the day no matter what happened.

The difference is how I saw that time. I could spend it joyfully, finding humour and laughter in the situation, or I could spend it angrily, criticizing myself and David. I chose to enjoy the moment and the situation. After all, I couldn't change it one iota; I could only change how I responded. So back we went, enjoying the drive and the view, laughing at the silliness of it all. There was even a plus side to our return trip; David got to see the Rigby Museum and it's exhibit of local inventor Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of television, something he had wanted to do but gave up when he found the museum opened at 1:00 PM, well after we left Idaho Falls. Now he could go.

We didn't get to Yellowstone yesterday. No worries; they aren't closing the park today and even if the were, there's beauty in this drive no matter what. We will get there today. Last night we stayed here in Jackson, Wyoming, an amazing little resort town in the Grand Teton Mountains. We had a fabulous dinner where I enjoyed Buffalo Tartare, Elk Steak and a terrifically tasty Argentinian Malbec, none of which would have happened without the left behind luggage.


  1. So good news after all. I am enjoying your trip.

  2. David knew you before the ALS changed your attitude. I can totally understand why he took all the sharp things. Hilarious! :D