These words are borrowed from the classic Ferry Cross the Mersey by Gerry and the Pacemakers. I have always loved this song and when I lived in England and also being a fan of the Beatles, I made it a point to travel to Liverpool on many occasions. A friend of mine from my old Marriott days was in England and she came to visit and I convinced her to take the train to Liverpool. We ended up at the docks and there was a ferry about to depart. It was getting time to head back to my place so we thought this would be a perfect way to end the day. I had heard that the ferry captain would play Ferry Cross the Mersey for the tourists (and most likely to the irritation of those that lived there) so I was excited to hear it. It never played. We were heading back and I asked about the song and the captain said they do not play it during commuting hours. I was disappointed and I guess it showed because after a few minutes the captain opted to play it. I thanked him most sincerely and it really was a perfect ending to a perfect day. Well, actually, that is not necessarily true. When we got back to Watford, we went into the local pub for a few pints and that was actually the perfect ending.
This paragraph is a short and sweet version of this particular trip to Liverpool with my friend Jen and really lends no relevance to what this blog post will really be about. I added it because the title of this post was inspired by the song and fits perfectly with what I wanted to talk about.
I am sure many are familiar with the song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)“, released in 1999, by Baz Luhrmann. If not, you can listen to it here:
This song is absolutely one of my favorites for there are words contained within that shape my day to day life and I am sure I am not the only one. This song or I guess better words would be musical arrangement to a lecture is based on an article written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich titled “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young”. While all of the words to this are relevant in day to day life, there is one sentence in particular I can relate to at the moment.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.
For me, it was not an idle Tuesday but an idle Sunday morning. I rose before the sun and was out gardening by 5:00 a.m. For those that love to sleep in (like myself most of the time) let me assure you that you are definitely missing out if you do not catch a sunrise now and again. There are very few peaceful moments in life that compare to the moments before and just after dawn. I ended up getting a lot of work done and I sat down for a rest to write in my garden journal. Rest over, I got back to work before it got too hot to do any real work. As it was still cool I felt my nose run a bit which I thought was normal. I wiped at my nose and happened to glance down at my fingers. Blood. I had a bloody nose and that in itself was enough to create mild anxiety as I believe the last time I had a bloody nose was during a junior high fight when Donny Marsh got a lucky shot in. Thinking nothing of it as in the thoughts in my head were convincing the rest of me that it would just stop. It didn’t. I went inside to apply some pressure with a paper towel. This became soaked and what was mild anxiety evolved into serious panic because now my nose was gushing.
I tried laying down and this was a mistake as blood started gushing down my throat. We opted to go to the emergency room and there they cauterized the vein that was causing the problem but unfortunately that was just a symptom of worse news to come. Upon arrival my blood pressure was 207 over something and after I was calmer, etc., my blood pressure would not fall below 170. When I was allowed to leave the emergency room I was given a prescription for high blood pressure medication and an appointment to see a doctor. Fast forward to that day.
My blood pressure was high of course on that day and the diagnosis was stage two hypertension. I was given better drugs and thankfully today the blood pressure is more or less under control. I would like to say this story ends there on that positive note. When I left the doctor’s office, two more appointments were scheduled. One was for blood to be drawn for testing and the other was the follow up with my physician to discuss said test results Fast forward to that day.
Well, actually, the day of the news that will forever change my life was received by the physician’s assistant the day before my actual appointment.
PA: Hi, how are you?
Me: Good. And you?
PA: Great, thank you. Your blood work came back and you have tested positive for diabetes. We do not know which type you have yet though. That will require more tests.
The line was silent for a bit.
Me: Okay. I guess ….
PA: Yes, your doctor will discuss this in more depth with you tomorrow.
The conversation ended shortly thereafter and the rest of the night was spent trying to take it all in. I immediately thought of my health, past, present and future. I like so many other people on this planet really have not done my health any favors for so many years. Fast food, soda (lots of Dr. Pepper), candy, ice cream, pies, fatty foods and the list goes on and on. I always felt healthy and never gave what I ate a second thought. I knew that SOME day I would need to watch what I eat in the interest of my health but I never thought that particular day would arrive in this particular fashion. At first, I will admit I was confused, scared, angry and resentful. For the rest of my life I am going to have to watch what I eat. My 15 Dr. Peppers (Forrest Gump reference) will have to become a memory. Just to test what a Dr. Pepper does to blood sugar, I had one the other night. My usual reading has been in the 220’s roughly. When drinking the Dr. Pepper, it shot up to 356. Sodas really are very, very horrible for you but boy do they taste good!
So, with all of this, it would be easy to become defeatist about the whole situation and trust me that would be such a simple option. I could elect to take prescription medicine and rely on insulin to ‘correct’ my bad eating habits. That is a fast track to an early grave. Instead, I am opting to focus on what I have to gain through this. I have wanted to get healthy and change my eating habits for quite some time and now that I am a diabetic, I am forced to do that. Further, it could always be worse. Having a diagnosis of diabetes beats a diagnosis of another kind. All in all, this serves as a stark reminder of how short life is and that you only have the one life so it is best you do all you can to take care of it.
I thank you all for reading and I wish you all nothing but the best always.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”
- The Grocery Store Penny Horse