Thursday, May 9, 2024

Learning to Pivot

 Last year, around this time, doctors found a new mass in my brain. I remember thinking, "This is it. This is the one that will kill me." It's just that oncologists keep saying I'll die from melanoma since it's gone to my brain. Despite this, it is astounding that I'm here at all. That mass has hardly grown because of cancer treatments, and I'm fortunate to even be alive and writing this article in the spring of 2024.

While sitting here today, I remembered the word "pivot." A man spoke about that word during a business meeting several years ago. He said, "We must see things from new perspectives so we can overcome obstacles and be problem solvers. If we don't learn to change and evolve, other companies will happily take our clients. We need to PIVOT." I enjoyed his speech so much that I couldn't stop thinking about the word and even wondered what pivot originally meant.

After getting home, I flipped through several etymology books and Googled for answers. Everything said the same thing: pivot originally referred to "a pin to spin on." Without that pin, the object could never hope to spin. It seemed to be all about foundations. And everyone knows that without a good foundation, it's hard to pivot, let alone build things. (Try spinning OR building something on quicksand! :) )

Thinking about this now reminds me of my family and friends. I am so incredibly lucky to have them. The wonderful people who have stayed by my side, they help me remain strong. They are my foundation.

Thinking about the memory, I swiveled in a tiny blue recliner that I got from a yard sale. Mike didn't originally agree with the purchase, but it's become my favorite place to sit—and apparently everyone else's too. If I get there first, I'll sit and look out the window. We get a lot of deer and other wildlife where we live, and if I'm not amazed by fuzzy animals, I'm pondering anything from music to spring to etymology. My eyes fell on the blooms outside. Although I love winter, seeing new life coming like magic out of the ground is nice. Different seasons remind so many people of life and death. That's what I think about, too… and cancer. It seems like winter has come to my life, and although I'm so grateful for the knowledge it's brought, sometimes it's nice to focus on spring—and life. I've needed "spring" to come so badly.

As I "pivoted" in my blue chair, I turned my focus from the window so I could study something else for a change. 

I smiled at our piano, a place where Indy spends countless hours. That's when I spotted something unusual: Just beneath the sustain pedal, something stuck out from under the piano.

Quit a while ago, amid cancer treatments, radiation, and surgeries; a picture went missing! It used to hang above the piano. Although it didn't have a frame, I loved it and couldn't believe someone had taken it down. I asked everyone, but no one confessed. "It gave me hope," I pled. "Something to strive for." But after time, I finally stopped looking—and now I feel like an idiot. All this time, the picture had been underneath the piano. It had fallen off the wall.

I gingerly pulled it from its hiding place and stared at the details of cherry blossoms I had painted when I first got sick. Despite experiencing the winter of my life… I had painted spring. I had painted hope. 

I know this might sound silly or trivial to some, but this moment felt like some sort of sign. I don't think it means I'll necessarily get better or beat cancer, but it is a reminder to find joy in every single day. After all, that makes life worth living: spreading joy to others and experiencing it ourselves.

I'm so glad I turned my attention from the window, even for a moment. I love seeing wildlife and enjoying nature from the warmth of my front room, but it is true that when we look at our lives from different perspectives, the view can be extraordinary.

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