Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

–Robert Frost


I like it when Owen cries. By that I don’t mean I like the act of him crying or to watch him suffer. I like the fact his cries remind me that he is constantly living in the now and that everything is a matter of life and death. When he cries, he needs to eat  now. When he cries, he needs to sleep now. When he cries, he needs to potty now or be changed now. When he cries, he is too hot or too cold now.

You see, babies can’t be preoccupied by the past or future. Every cry is imperative to his survival. Every cry is a mandate that we must respond accordingly and act now. At some point he will outgrow this instinct. He will learn to wait for his needs to be fulfilled and to withhold his desires. I don’t wish upon that day to come too soon since we as adults spend way too much of our lives doing those things.

My husband jokes about how I’m always looking for the most efficient way of doing things. “I’m trying to live three lives in the one life time!” I responded, “and you’re slowing me down!”  There is a consistent sense of urgency in everything I do, no matter how small or trivial. Any time and effort I save now means there can be more dedicated to something else later. This tendency gets even stronger when it domes to bigger endeavors and adventures.

This now or never kind of attitude is not something Peter and I share. I don’t know what made me the way I am or the way he is, whether we are born as such or it is a learned behavior we acquired later on in life. My mom attributes the difference in our outlooks to our culture backgrounds. Up until recent history China has been through a long history of war, political unrests and natural disasters, while Sweden has maintained relative stability even through two world wars. I have not personally endured through the hardship that plagued the generations before me in China. Nevertheless, I was brought up hearing stories of immediate relatives fleeing from Japanese invasion, joining the Long March, fighting prolonged civil wars, being imprisoned for political viewpoints and suffering through famine, natural disasters, lack of medical care and poor working conditions. There was no shortage of transferred trauma if not through biological imprints then certainly through storytelling.

There is something about instability and uncertainty that motivates people to live in the moment. I’ve become accustomed to believe that the most opportune time to do something is now, however burdensome or difficult that may be. I have without a doubt made many things harder than they are for the sake of pursuing them sooner rather than later. Perhaps it would have been easier had I waited, except there is no guarantee that I would have done it. In my book, it is worth the extra trouble to get over whatever hurdles there are now rather than to wait for a better day. As the way things go, circumstances change and that better day may never come. I may be a pessimist for thinking tomorrow may not get easier but I’m an optimist for thinking today is the best there will ever be.

And with that kind of attitude, we are back to preparing for the PCT. Even though it was never officially off the table, things did look a bit bleak with my recent hospitalization and extended treatment plan. Peter also interviewed and received a job offer that could have required him to start working full time now. But my recovery is going well and Peter was able to negotiate for a late start date. Now is the time for us to really get prepared for the hike as we wait to finish my IV treatment.

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