On a recent Sunday afternoon, I received a call from one of my clients, a young woman in her early twenties who told me that her father had died of a massive heart attack the previous evening.
I was shocked. Although I had talked to her father only once – he interviewed me before he agreed to pay for ADD coaching – I knew he was a relatively young man, a college professor who was still teaching, edging toward retirement. And I knew he loved his daughter beyond measure, bolstering her efforts every day, in every way.
I immediately thought of my own dad, who has a long history of heart problems. So I picked up the phone, just to check in, to make sure he was OK. There was no answer, but I left a message, asking him to return my call.
Instead, when the phone rang the next day, it was my mother, telling me that my dad was in the hospital. He’d suffered a TIA – a low-level brain blip similar to a stroke. Again, I was shocked. My dad is older, in his 80s. He juggles the ailments of aging pretty well, so I’ve learned to be optimistic about his health. My client’s unexpected tragedy, however, reminded me of a poignant passage from my favorite poem by Mary Oliver: “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?”
The words echoed in my mind as I monitored my dad’s recovery, as I attended the funeral of my client’s father, as I thought about my own place in the world, my own longevity. I know deeply (and forget regularly!) that I want to savor my life, to notice its millions of facets and flaws. I believe life is best experienced moment-to-moment, fully engaged and open to possibility.
Isn’t that a perfect job description for an ADD brain? It locks onto one of life’s fascinating topics, then skips over to another one and then another. We order the ‘sampling menu’ when we flit through life with an ADD brain – a little taste here, a nibble there. As long as we stay in the moment, we are truly living our lives to the hilt.
Sometimes, I admit, my ADD brain clogs with so much information. And sometimes I can get “into my head” with worry or planning or overwhelm. But when I quiet the mind chatter that comes from what I call the “ears up” self – the busy-busy brain, I find my center again. I pay attention to what is in front of me, in the present moment. And then the next.
That is truly all we have in this world. One moment; followed by another moment; and another moment after that. Until we are all out of moments. And our ADD brains stop flitting forever.
My ADD client grieves for her father, while appreciating his life. She will go on to create a life she loves, moment to moment. My father has recovered, and started the first day of the rest of his life with a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs.
I will try to stay fully present with my ADD brain; and remember the rest of Mary Oliver’s poem:
“Doesn’t everything die and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”