Monday, July 12, 2010

Different Lives

With the rare exceptions of when I've been out of town, every single morning for the past four years I have had exactly the same breakfast: a glass of V8 juice, a chocolate covered donut, and a cup of coffee. The rationale behind this is not my love for chocolate covered donuts, which has, after roughly 1,460 donuts, begun to wane, or V8 juice, which I still enjoy, or coffee, which to be honest I have never really cared all that much for, but my need to take in as many calories a day as I possibly can. Also, the fact that I no longer derive any pleasure whatsoever from eating, which I reluctantly view as simply a physical necessity, has something to do with it.

So I am making a major change in my life: I'm giving up on the donuts. Each one has 350 calories, but I will substitute yet another can of Nutri-Drink liquid, which also has 350 calories. That will bring me up to 3 cans per day, or over half my total caloric intake. (Oh, dear comes that longing for a bologna sandwich again! Multi-grain bread slathered in mayonnaise, two thick slabs of bologna with a slice of cheese, some mustard, and a large lettuce leaf! You have no idea how much I miss eating!!)

Anyway, back to the point, which is that I am about to make a minor life change, and that each of us lives several different lives in the span of our existence. This all came to me as the result of sorting through 575+ blog entries preparatory to publishing two e-books on blogs, and realizing just how many different stages we pass through on our journey through life.

Though you and I have different backgrounds and experiences, there are enough similarities to allow us to relate. Our infancy-through-high-school stage is, in effect, a separate state of existence, totally separated from what comes after. One's college years--for me, at least--are both unique and wonderful, providing a world of fond memories. But it, also, is as separate from what came before as it is from what follows. What followed for me (well, it was actually sandwiched between my sophomore and junior years of college), was my brief but distinctly different life in the military. It was a totally unique world which, thanks to the letters I wrote my parents and kept, provide a vivid, day-by-day living memory.

After college/the military for most people, as it did for me, comes the world of 9-5 work, which for most is the longest and, depending on the individual and the type of work done, either one of the most interesting or dull phases of life.

For me, the diagnosis of tongue cancer triggered the most dramatic and traumatic era in my life, and changed it forever. I am still dealing with its aftermath, which will be with me for the rest of my life.
But this type of interruption is fortunately the exception to the lives of most other people.

For most, the next major stage is retirement, which is also totally different from any of those that went before and, like each of them except infancy-through-high-school is largely what you make of it.

Within each stage there are little satellite stages--romance, relationships, social life, etc. Yet while each stage segues with varying degrees of disruption to the daily flow of our lives, upon close examination each stage is totally separated from the others, and we lead largely-different lives in each. Unfortunately, appreciation does not keep up with the change from stage to stage, and we are almost always unable to fully appreciate any specific stage until we have moved on to the next (or the one after that).

Stepping out of one's self and looking back in as an objective stranger takes some doing, but it is well worth the effort, since it invariably demonstrates that we are not quite as ordinary or dull as we frequently assume ourselves to be.

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