Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Pressure of Survival / The Right to Goof Off

Surviving Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) puts you into a very small club. I've been told that the survival rate is 2% (but then someone corrected me and said it was actually 3% - hardly a comforting difference to me). Whether it's 2% or 3% or 4%, it's a very small group. 96-98 out of 100 people who experience SCA die - permanently die, not just have a brush with death. Really die. Finito. End of the line. Not coming back no more.

But I didn't, and I have online acquaintances who didn't either - we are in the 2%. In the weeks immediately after the SCA when I was having constant (or it felt constant) contact with various medical personnel, I heard over and over references to destiny -
- God must have had a plan for you
- God wasn't finished with you yet.

And then even more references to what (to me) feels like some pretty significant expectations:
- Oh, this experience must give you a profound sense of purpose
- You are here for a reason
- It must change your entire perspective on what is important.

Well, yes and no. And while I know it is unseemly to complain about the after-math of survival, all of the above adds up to a burden. Or at least pressure. Not that I have ever been a total goof-off, but if I wanted to be, how on earth could I possibly justify it now? Did we lose that right?

Yes and no. Sure, I have times of profound introspection about how I want to spend my days that sometimes feel absolutely borrowed, BUT I also still get cranky waiting in a slow- moving checkout line. So the SCA survival hasn't completely changed my perspective. Just a bit, here and there.

But when people ask me these questions, sometimes it feels like pressure. Like I don't deserve to goof off, or if I do, even the goofing off must be profound. Can't be just regular, old-fashioned goofing off, it would have to be "pondering the essence of the universe" or "cherishing all the earth has to offer".

Sometimes, I just goof off. Throw off the mantle that because I got so flipping lucky 9.5.09 that I am now a deeper person or at minimum have an obligation to lead a deeper life.
Sometimes yes, sometimes not.