Yesterday I visited a long-term treatment facility in another city. A relative is staying there while recuperating from a serious incident. This article is for everybody who puts off their dreams in the belief that they have plenty of time to realise them.
A relatively young man was lying on the bed. His only view was of a white ceiling. If he got up and looked out of the window, he would have seen a couple of trees and the gable of the neighbouring funeral home.
He lives in an area that measures fifteen times six steps. He can go into the corridor, but not out of the building. On the outside he has work, lots of friends, money in his bank account as well as lots of dreams he still hasn’t started to realise. He first wanted to finish his apartment, complete one project and start another and then…
But life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. We don’t have an unlimited amount of time. We only have this moment right now.
Then it may not be death that comes. It could be what he has fallen into.
He was always working. He said that this was so he could get everything that needed to be done finished as soon as possible so that he could start realising the dreams he had been putting off. But life doesn’t work like that. One day he started to feel bad; he couldn’t see, his head was spinning and ever since then he’s been here. He was found to have a disease where the body comes into conflict with itself and starts to reject its limbs, from the ends of the fingers and toes.
It started with a leg, which the doctors are progressively removing.
The young man is not pessimistic. He believes that the latest operation has solved the problem and he’s going home. In reality, however, as a doctor told me in the corridor, “This is like when you drive down a one-way street there’s no backing out of. He simply can’t back out.”
For this man, simply—at the drop of a hat—his apartment, friends, work and dreams ceased to exist. Everything is set aside somewhere outside. He told me that he was looking forward to trips, castles, mountain paths… that he had realised that it could not be put off and, “that he would behave and finally start enjoying every day…” However, the fact is that he is currently in a one-way street there is no backing out of. Life is what he had until this moment; he doesn’t have a second chance. “Unless his body re-thinks things, his future is only in this hospital building,” the doctor told me.
“How does it feel when people know they’re dying?” I asked him.
The doctor turned to me with an amused smile: “And how does it feel when you pretend you’re not dying?”
I came out of that terrible building and it seemed to me that the heavenly police had stopped the traffic and let me back out of the one-way street. I was suddenly free in the garden; I could go into the street through the porter’s lodge or I could get into my car and go anywhere; for example on a trip, to a castle, along a mountain path. Not him.
I felt—how can I put it?—privileged. Not everybody is as lucky as me; to be able to start realising their dreams, not in a year’s time, but now. I can, for example, meet a friend for a beer, go to an exhibition about butterflies, or go and see one of the Poets films at the cinema. Right now. Not “some time.”
“I curse my past; I curse myself for having sacrificed all my free time for work. If I’d known what would happen, I would’ve behaved differently from the first day,” said the sick man, with the belief that he could talk life into giving him a second chance.
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