I spent years planning to write, thinking about writing, and talking about writing. What I didn't do for a very long time was actually write. What gave me the kick I needed to get me going? I almost died.
I was watching the X-Files one Sunday night, eating a brand of crisps that I'm not going to name, for fear of being sued (the reason will become clear as I go on), when I began to heat up. My lower legs began to itch, so I scratched them. Then my upper legs began to itch... my lower arms, upper arms, stomach, back, and head. Within an hour I was bright red, and the only relatively normal-looking area of my body was my face. As I've suffered from allergies, predominantly food ones, since childhood, although not to such an extent, I thought I must have eaten something that didn't agree with me. I took some antihistamines and expected the redness to go.
When did I realise that I was really sick? Well, waking up in the bathroom in the middle of the night with no recollection of how I'd got there, covered with a lumpy and incredibly hot rash, didn't alert me. Vomiting all day the following day didn't either. It wasn't until my husband got home that evening and discovered me shivering on the hall floor that I finally concluded that I really did need to see a doctor. Half an hour later I was on my way to hospital, a little while after that my heart was racing, my blood pressure had plummeted, every inch of my body was in pain, and the emergency room doctors were all looking perplexed and rather worried as they rushed around, jabbing me with needles and wiring me up to machines. The following three days were spent in the emergency assessment unit whilst my doctors, still confused, threw every drug known to man at me. I was unconscious for most of the time during the first two days, and when I did finally wake up I didn't have the energy to speak. I ate nothing for four days, and couldn't move, partly because of the pain and partly because of the tubes that seemed to be attached to every part of my anatomy. A roll in the wrong direction set the machines beeping, or threatened to yank out my drips or remove my heart monitor pads.
Eventually the doctors concluded that it must have been those chips that almost finished me off. Imagine that... a late night nibble in front of the TV could have ended my life. We worry about being mugged, catching some fatal disease, or being squashed in a car crash... we take precautions, trying to avoid circumstances which may bring about the end of us. And then a mouthful of an innocent-looking potato chip we've never eaten before almost kills us.
Perhaps it takes coming close to death... accepting it... to inspire us to really live, to live every moment as if it were our last. I don't take it for granted that I'll still be around this time next week... I could be hit by a bus tomorrow... but I don't waste my time worrying about it. I write, I paint, I sing, I dance, and I fall over and laugh at myself a lot. Life is not a rehearsal, and it could end at any moment. None of us know how long we have left... there's no use talking about writing, thinking about it, or planning for it, if you never do it!
So what are you waiting for, go grab a pen/laptop/brush/whatever.
Causes Gina Collia-Suzuki Supports
The World Wildlife Fund
Cancer Research UK