Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Amuse or a Muse?

News real quick: My blood counts are low, as expected, but I didn't need blood products today. I go back Friday to check them again. My immune system is bottomed out, with a white blood cell count of 0.1, or basically nothing, and it's expected to stay that way for about another week. The nurse told me there's some sort of cold going around, so she wore a mask as well as I.

I'm being very careful, as I should, and thank God there's nothing to report.

So ...

There's a half marathon next weekend here in Nashville, and three of my friends—ladies—are going to run it in my honor. At least one is collecting donations for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (feel free to contribute). As I walked this afternoon, I thought, "I'm going to go run that thing next year myself."

I may be fooling myself. Several people have told me about the lingering fatigue after a bone marrow transplant. But I'm holding onto the dream until Life proves otherwise.

Anyway, I got to crafting a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society support email in my mind as I walked, and I liked it so much that I thought it a sin to let it sit until next year. You can't contribute to my next year's half marathon yet, so you might want to consider Alaina's this year.

Here's the letter:

Dear Sir/Ma'am,

I don't think I would have wanted to receive a letter like this in the past, but today, as one alive from the dead, I'm a bit more concerned about what's good, true, and beneficial than about what you or I like. Hopefully, you're of a better natural temper than I would have been in your shoes.

I am going to be running a half marathon in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I would like to ask for a contribution in a rather exact amount.

I'd like to ask for the amount of your next trip to a restaurant, determined by your own best estimate.

Then, with my apologies in advance to those of you whose mindset is already such as I'm about to describe, I'd like to ask you one more thing.

Would you cancel that next trip to a restaurant and tell the reason to the person who invited you? Would you tell them that you wanted to purposely make a choice to make your life matter today and that you wanted to feel it enough to remind you to make it matter every day?

Do you know what the word "muse" means?

As a verb it means "to thoughtfully consider."

Do you know what the word "amuse" means?

At first I assumed it was the conjunction of the word "muse" with the Greek prefix "a-," which means "not." Thus, "amuse" would mean "to avoid thinking."

But I was wrong. As it turns out "amuse" is from the French amuser, which meant "to stupefy." It was a conjunction of ad- and muser, a word that meant "to stare stupidly."

No society has ever had as many amusements as American society. And no generation has had as many amusements as our own. We are devoted to stupefying ourselves and avoiding having to think.

We are the most pleasured and least happy society of all time.

In fact, I think that many of us have forgotten what it means to be happy. We only know how to be thrilled.

There is no satisfaction deeper than that of a deed well done, and there is no longer-lasting satisfaction than that of a life well-lived.

Few of us consider now how we ought to live. Among the few who do, guidance has become limited and scattered. Fools are as likely to be considered experts as the wise are. Finding the way is difficult.

What I do know is that there is power in a good beginning.

I pray that this letter is a beginning of happiness for you if you do not already possess it. I pray that you may possess the joy of a life well-lived. I am offering an opportunity to take one step, to deny luxury one time for the purpose of doing good, and in doing so, to develop a habit that will knock at the door of your consciousness each and every day. (Though I must clarify here that I am not asking anyone to forego all amusements, nor do I think that necessarily a good thing.)

I am afraid that I believe that the telling of it to another may be as essential as the doing of it.

Finally, for those of you to whom this letter has no application, please consider this cause if you have no other that pulls at your purse strings. And if you do, I thank you for the time in reading this letter, as I cannot say that this cause is better than all others.

Thank you,

Paul F. Pavao
Alive from the dead ... with a purpose

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