Sunday, 10 April 2016
Today, Saturday, 9th April 2016, is exactly one year (by day) since I first experienced the chest pain symptoms of what was shortly thereafter diagnosed as Angina, walking to the local shop, and life changed.
And today, I find myself exploring the byways of Claremont Landscape Garden, a National Trust treasure in Esher, Surrey, in a contemplative mood. It's a small but pretty estate, with a lake and lots of walks in forestry and garden, and I am letting my eyes lead my feet, with no plan other than to occupy myself pleasurably whilst Mandy attends a craft beading show at Sandown Park Racecourse. As I walk, I'm reflecting how pleasant this is, and how lucky I am to be here to experience it; how fantastic it is to be walking and not experiencing the scary tightening pain in my chest when I do that; how walking has been an integral part of my bypass operation recovery process and how I'm seeing analogies to my situation all around me today.
I've been taking photos on my phone as I explore. Here are some musings related to those pictures.
I have never been here before, so every pathway I follow is unfamiliar to me. But I can follow them reasonably confident that the National Trust won't let me lose my way or lead me off-site and will enable me to get back to the entrance and the inevitable - although very welcome - cafe, safely and unscathed. I'm now an independent L&D and Learning Technologies Consultant, slowly building up a new business in my 'new normal' life. This is new territory for me, unexplored territory, following my instincts, prepared to see where we go and what will emerge. A bit scary, but the Universe has brought me this far and I don't think it'll lead me astray now.
My Angina was caused by one collapsed cardiac artery (my 'heart attack' apparently) and two partially closed arteries, all due to having arteriosclerosis. When I had my corrective surgery in May, my surgeon didn't actually unblock those arteries, he bypassed all three of them (hence 'triple bypass'), with veins harvested from my legs (my scars look like navigable pathways in themselves). Re-plumbing the heart, basically. But he also told me I was good for another 25 years now, so the future has been unblocked to me. It's up to me to make the most of that time and the landscape which is unfolding ahead of me.
Unsteady on my feet
As I walked around the gardens today, I was conscious of having to be careful where I put my feet on these paths. I did stagger a couple of times, something I have noticed that I do when I am in an uncertain or distracted frame of mind and, it reminded me to be present in the moment, to be mindful of the terrain and the surrounding landscape at the same time. Hence the photos.
No man is an island
The love and support I have had from so many people, family, friends, colleagues, social media and PLN (personal learning network) was, and continues to be, what got me through the last year and will be equally important to me in the years to come. Today, as I contemplate the last 12 months and look forward to the future, I hope I will be able to pay it forward for a long time to come.