A good surprise today…I was visited by Bodacious Bill.
Wikipedia defines “bodacious” as “Extremely cool, most excellent”—and Bodacious Bill is certainly that. He’s one of those people who are almost too good to be true: handsome, fit, smart, pleasant, with a good sense of humor. He is the CEO of a large association, and I have been the president of his fan club since he appeared on the scene several years ago.
Anyway, it was an enjoyable visit—we talked about people we both know (some might say we gossiped…) and what was going on in each of our lives. As we were talking I had one of those “Aha” moments—you know, when the light bulb flashes on above your head and illuminates an otherwise shadowy perception.
Bill is a self-made man. He told me that his father never learned to read, and couldn’t write much, even though he was a complex and intelligent person. On the other hand, Bill is bodacious. I can only assume there’s an abundance of self-discipline and goal-reaching in his life to have gotten that way, and indeed heis one of those obnoxious runners you see in the morning, doing 5 miles before work and winning iron man triathlons on weekends. ( Already Judith the Hipless is intimidated.)
And I realize that yes, I too have goals at this point—nothing so impossible as an iron person triathlon, but I want to be able to walk the pink sand beaches of Eleuthera and look good in a bathing suit that has enough fabric to cover my hip scar and two cancer scars. ( I do mean suit, not caftan, but suit— something where my arms and legs are visible…)
That’s my goal. I practice all the personal coaching techniques I impose on my clients—I meditate, visualize, write positive statements and list ‘gratitudes’. I find that a good time to do that is the daily 45 minutes I spend with the IV tube connected to my arm—I close my eyes and envision myself in flip flops and a bright blue bathing suit on the beach at Tarpum Bay.
But once the IV is out and I painfully creak out of bed and hobble with my walker into the bathroom, the gloom descends again, despite the countless exhortations from my friends and family to ‘keep my spirits up’. “Easy for YOU to say,” I snarl to myself.
“Why is this not working?”, I ask myself. “Because your vision is not a goal, it’s a fantasy,” I answer back (we Geminis can have endless important conversations between our spli8t personalities). “Ok, then, what’s the sign of a goal and what distinguishes it from a fantasy?”
I remember reading an arti8cle on effective goal setting that tries to answer that question. It said, “Goals must be Smart”—they must have the characteristics of being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Aha! (Note the lightbulb!) There’s the problem. The goal of smooshing the pink sand between my toes is missing some characteristics of a goal—it’s not measurable and it has no time frame. In other words, as long as I sit here waiting for the next set of lab results and the decision of two doctors, I have no markers to judge progress. There is no feeling of everything I do today gets me closer to my goal, because what I am really waiting for is the opportunity to have hip replacement surgery just like I did on October 8. (What I don’t want is the opportunity to begin this whole process over again–broken bones; infections; and weeks away from my little house in the woods, my music, and my dogs.)
Instead, the outcome of my tedious daily routine is unspecified: I have no clue about the markers the doctors will use to guide their decisions and even if I did, I suspect there’s nothing I can do to influence them except what I am doing now. It’s this state of suspended animation, or colloidal suspension that renders me so helpless and frustrated— because yes, I am like Bodacious Bill in this one regard: I am a goal setter and an attainer of what runners might call ‘personal best’. But ‘personal best’ is not a criteria in this fight: it’s how well does the medications fights infections, what are the results of my blood tests, and what will the doctors decide. These events are outside my sphere of influence. I am always willing to trust the decisions to the experts, mind you, and the only thing I can do at this point is to practice patience.