On a Saturday afternoon in mid-January, my Dad went into the hospital for pneumonia without any warning. He called me from the emergency room and told me what was happening, that everything was alright, and not to rush out there to see him because I was out of town at the time. I told him I’d be back to see him bright and early on Sunday.
The next day I got a phone call from him, and he could hardly speak. He was gasping for air. He told me that he was going onto a breathing ventilator. He was going to be fully sedated and have a machine breathe for him. I didn’t know if I’d ever talk to my Dad again.
This feeling lingered for the four weeks he lay in a medically induced coma as I spoke with countless doctors, nurses, and technicians about what was happening and the possibilities of what would happen – progress, regress, side effects, life, and death. I saw more x-rays and learned more medical jargon then I ever wanted to know. On his x-ray, my Dad’s lung was completely unusable and full of the pneumonia. With everything going on during that month, I didn’t feel like I had much time to think and reflect about what was really going on.
Thankfully, he is awake, responsive, and recovering now. When he was admitted to a rehab facility they were asking him some questions about medical history, pain, his likes, and dislikes – the standard questions. Then, one came out of the blue, “When you leave here, what’s you goal?”
I didn’t know how my Dad would answer. He paused and said, “Before this I used to exercise a lot, so I’d like to get back to that….” He paused. I was surprised because he was an exercise freak before – at least an hour of exercise everyday. How would he not want to get back to the shape he was in? He began again, “…I didn’t really know how bad it was until the doctors told me because I was out and woke up four weeks later. I really feel like I have been given a second chance a life. I want to be healthy enough to make the most of it.”
This hit me like a ton of bricks, and I began to tear up right along with my Dad – who I’ve only seen cry one other time my whole life. It got to me. It was emotional because my Dad and I both understood the severity, especially after we heard the doctors say he was on the edge and things could have gone either way a couple times during the four weeks. I didn’t have to be on the brink of life and death to have this change me. This could have been me lying there motionless in the ICU. I can take this moment and move forward as me having a second chance at life.
Why be upset about little things? Why continue to be unhappy at an unsatisfying job? Why be stuck in mediocrity? Why not make the most out of life?
Not to sound like a philosophy class, but we simply don’t know how long we will be here. Life can take sudden turns that we never expect. Do what you’re passionate about. Follow your dreams. Live so you won’t have regrets. Essentially, to quote my good friend Ryan who has inspired me, “Do what you love, and fuck the rest.”
I love everything that this site attempts to encompass: travel, teaching, people, experiences, culture, language, food, adventure, and much, much more. That is what I am going to do with my new outlook on life – do what I love.
I wish I didn’t, and more importantly, my Dad didn’t, have to experience this in order for this new outlook on life to truly grab a hold of me. I have felt that teaching English in Spain, or abroad somewhere, is what I have wanted to do since studying abroad. Last year, I passed up an opportunity to teach English in Almuñecar, Spain. I don’t dwell on that, even though it would have been a great opportunity. All I can do is move forward and take what I learned from this experience and make the most out of life.
Everything happens for a reason. Cliché, I know. Don’t hate me. We will all have experiences during our lives. These experiences will change you. Let them change you for the better. Chase what you are passionate about. Do what inspires you. Go on and inspire others.