I had been very busy at work, having gone many months without a worthwhile break. In mid-July, with my energy levels severely depleted, I succumbed to a harsh infection which really affected my lungs and exacerbated my cystic fibrosis* and diabetes. This meant a lot of extra treatment and physiotherapy, often fitted in late at night in order to get as good a sleep as possible.
Separately, one of my oldest friends from my hometown has been courageously battling leukaemia in hospital which has been utterly horrible for him and emotional for us to witness.
There had been a steady build-up and I was slightly on the edge – mind, body and spirit. I was holding out for some time off with my family. This nirvana came a few weeks back when Katie, Felix and I travelled to Portugal for a week of holiday.
Sign of the time
On arrival, in the reception area of the hotel, I was drawn to this teenage girl sitting in her wheelchair with family and friends. She looked like she had cerebral palsy. Despite being able to communicate with those around her, she was permanently dribbling onto a handkerchief draped over her chest. It made tears well up in my eyes, which in-turn accentuated my feeling of sadness.
On our way to the apartment, I definitely felt the need for some form of divine support or signal to help calm my soul and restore my life-balance.
I do look out for signs when life is too helter-skelter or feels out of control. These signs have come in the form of objects which keep crossing my path, songs which I keep hearing on the radio and certain lyrics or messages I keep reading in the form of repeat phrases, words or slogans.
Having been up early to catch the flight from London and following a tiring journey, I went to wash my face in our bathroom. And there was my sign – right there in front of me…
It was the bar of soap. Most of the time with such a functional object as a bar of soap, we pick it up, un-wrap it, use and discard it or put it back in the dish. Not this time.
On the wrapper of the soap was written the following words: ‘Enjoy your life!’
Three simple words. ‘Enjoy your life!’
But those words summed things up so succinctly. It served as a wonderful and timely reminder that life can be short, so it needs to be enjoyed. After all, can you think of anything better as your life mantra or to be said of you as part of your eulogy: “He/ she enjoyed their life!”
Who’d have ever thought that a humble bar of soap in Portugal would offer me the guidance I so badly required. It was quite literally, the right sign at the right time.
Keep your eyes and ears open as your much-needed signal could be right there in front of you… What sign will you see or hear today?
I will keep you posted on my life-affirming moments, trials and tribulations as and when they happen. Please keep reading and sharing my blog and sign-up (on the right hand side tab) if you have not already done so.
Yours cup half full.
Tim Wotton (CF author)
* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 10,000 people. The condition affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Each week, five babies are born with the condition, however, each week, three young lives are also lost to it. There is currently no cure for CF. However, existing gene therapy trials in the UK are bringing people with the illness closer to a form of cure but CF is not that well known and would benefit from more public donations. For more information and to find out more view the CF Trust Website.