When the chemo and radiation treatment I received for recurrent uterine cancer failed to completely eliminate my tumor nearly 6 months ago, the doctors said there was nothing else they could do and I thought I was a goner. I have since been doing various alternative treatments and I'm feeling healthy and strong -- I am still here. However, I know that I am living on borrowed time; and I also know that my situation is not grave...it's gravy! Faced with possible imminent death, I am fully appreciating and tasting each moment and experiencing that time has magically slowed and expanded. As I'm immersed in the present and savoring it, I'm finding that this present is the gift that keeps on giving.

My husband Tom told me that his father lived with that grateful attitude each and every day, ever since an incident that happened when he was a young man serving in World War II. One day during the war, he generously gave up his foxhole to another man and sought shelter elsewhere. The man in the foxhole was killed by an artillery shell. After that Tom's father believed that there was nothing to worry about because from then on life was a gift, it was all gravy.

I'm feeling that too. I feel wide awake, happy to be alive, and wanting to learn all that I can while I'm still here on schoolhouse Earth. I also feel a great lessening of the fear that had gripped me when I first learned that I had cancer. I have accepted that I might die, and have come to a place of peace with it all. I know that I can do this. I can face whatever happens. I can feel whatever feelings come up. I don't want to die, but I've accepted that I'm doing everything I can and if my number is up then it's up. When the time comes, I can see myself going peacefully, knowing that it is my time to go, and believing that where I go from here is the next great adventure. In the meantime, I am making the most of this borrowed time.

The late great John Lennon wrote a song called "Borrowed Time" (included on his last album) which was inspired by a life-changing sailing adventure he had in the spring of 1980. He had been in a creative dry spell for five years and was feeling depressed. He decided to shake up his life by sailing with a crew on a sailboat from Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda. Not long into the journey a severe storm with 20-foot waves and 65 mile an hour winds rendered everyone on board seasick, except John. He was an inexperienced sailor and felt terrified, but he was the only one who was well enough to sail the boat.

He recounted in a Playboy interview a few months after the incident how he steered the boat for 6 hours, keeping it on course, while persistent waves washed over him, smashing him in the face, knocking him to his knees at times. Though he was frightened, he said, "Once I accepted the reality of the situation, something greater than me took over and all of a sudden I lost my fear. I actually began to enjoy the experience and I started to shout out old sea shanties in the face of the storm, screaming at the thundering sky."

He had stepped up to the challenge, faced his fear, faced death, and came through it invigorated and enlivened. When he got to Bermuda he said that because of his experience at sea he felt centered and tuned into the cosmos and was inspired to write the beautiful songs for his Double Fantasy album, which eventually won the Grammy for album of the year.

After that incident John realized that he was living on borrowed time and said, "come to think of it, that's what we all are doing, even though most of us don't like to face it." He was killed just 6 months after that great awakening and brilliant outpouring of creativity, but those 6 months were richly imbued with vivid aliveness and appreciation for the fragility and preciousness of life. That's what I'm feeling about my life.

I believe that when someone, such as John Lennon, dies at an early age, it is a great waker-upper for people, it's a lovely parting gift, reminding us that this earth life is finite and let's go for it, let's prioritize, let's live fully while we are alive.

As John said, we are ALL living on borrowed time. It's all gravy. How about you? Are you fully tasting and savoring the gravy? Are you creating seeming catastrophes that are actually blessings in disguise, enhancing the flavor of your life, making it more delicious, exciting and purposeful? Here's to a life fully lived and savored!

Copyright 2011 Janet Jacobsen

Author's Bio: 

Janet Jacobsen is trained in Hakomi, a mind/body approach which advocates that healing happens when we bring loving presence to what is. She has also apprenticed for two years with Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks (authors of Conscious Loving), learning skills to make love real and fun. Her thriving relationship with her husband Tom is a testament to
the effectiveness and value of those skills. You can read more of her free inspiring essays at EnlightenInk.com