Living or existing

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 Permalink

Last night I was sitting out on my verandah with my laptop looking for pics for my latest Diet Schmiet post.

As usual, the view before me was spectacular and I reminded myself how lucky I am to be living in such a spot.

In my picture search I came across several Steve Jobs (of Apple fame) quotes I’d saved, one of which I used in a post – unveiling my plans for this new life I’ve started.

steve jobs

Tears flowed.

In that moment I was reminded of why I made this move; of why I changed my life.

In that earlier post I said that I realised life is short. I wasn’t desperately unhappy in my old life, but I was most certainly waiting for the fun to start.

I’d spent most of my life treading water until I was: thin enough; had the right job; met the right guy; started a family; discovered my passion. And so forth.

As a result I was 44 years old and in some kind of limbo. Existing, but not living.

The ‘being made redundant at work’ thing forced me to reconsider my life. And although in the end, I did have some other alternatives, I decided to make some sweeping changes. It wasn’t the Steve Jobs quote that did it, but it was the sentiment.

My father died in late October last year (did you notice I used the ‘d’ word? That’s taken a while). And recently several friends, colleagues and acquaintances have had serious health issues. I’ve heard of the passing of people I didn’t really know but who were of a similar age to me.

In my own little self-absorbed way this has been confronting: the realisation that the world in which I existed and my meager achievements ‘could’ (in fact) be the extent of my life was terrifying.

living or existing

Quite frankly I’m not even sure I want my life to be about achievements. I mean, can’t it just be about ‘being’. Living. Happily.

Yesterday my brother forwarded an email he’d received about the wife of a school friend. I knew the friend well (although I’m a few years younger we kinda grew up together) and I’d met his wife. She’d had cancer for some time and the prognosis had been both good and bad for several years.

She passed away in the early hours of yesterday. She was about my age and she and her husband had three kids – the youngest aged three.

Obviously I was saddened by this news: her lost life and the experiences she wouldn’t have; her husband and her kids – having to live without their friend, lover and mother.

But it wasn’t until I came across the Steve Jobs quote that it really hit home to me:

The pointlessness of living an inauthentic life.
The waste of not living life to the full.
The utter inanity of waiting for perfection or expecting ‘more’.  

It’s hard not to feel guilty for surviving sometimes, when others don’t. But it occurred to me that those of us who do have a responsibility to really LIVE. And not just EXIST.

  • patricia mclean
    November 13, 2012

    That just hit a spot – the utter inanity of waiting for perfection or expecting more..have been struggling at the moment. And have not been true to myself nor taking the time out to smell the roses that I had planned when i went work …time to live an authentic life.

    • Debbish
      November 13, 2012

      Hi Patricia and I’m HOPING that’s what my changes will be bringing about. Am sure you’ll get there!


  • Margaret
    November 13, 2012

    Deb, What I remember most about Tanya was that she had an absolute passion for life. I know that she often felt threatened that all the “other wives” had professional careers, but she was totally committed to her life and to her family and she was a joy to be around (although I know she faced her own personal challenges). The only plus side I can see in this is that her husband is the best male in that old school circle to continue the nurturing of their family. I have to say I cried when I heard the news – but I took comfort in the fact that she had lived her life to the full. Marg

    • Debbish
      November 14, 2012

      Hello… my first ever ‘family’ comment! Yes… I guess that’s what I was thinking. I hope she was able to feel she’d lived a fulfilling life with her family and had minimal regrets (am sure it’s impossible to have none!). I can’t even imagine what it was like for her when she knew what was before her (and I feel bad writing about it!).

      I can only hope she found her life as fulfilling as she’d hoped it to be – albeit involving less time with her family and those she loved.

      A reminder to the rest of us…. I hope! (If that doesn’t sound selfish!)

  • Becci
    November 13, 2012

    Way to put in words what I’ve been feeling lately, Deb! Something triggered it last night (I think it was watching Devils Dust) and I thought about my Dad and suddenly felt all the regret he felt as he lay in a hospital bed dying of cancer. And the 5 yrs after he went and whether Mum had these thoughts as well through all the alzheimers. I don’t want to feel that in my 80’s. And the tragedy is some people don’t get to live that long to outlive their promises to themselves. Let’s not regret.

    • Debbish
      November 14, 2012

      Oh yes Becci. Regret is a terrible thing. I have much of it already. And as for your parents… I feel really sad for you. My dad had dementia and I only hope that – in his last two weeks in Palliative Care – he had no idea what was happening. We just kept telling him he was in hospital (as he forgot that a moment after we told him). He was not-awake for his last 6 days but I hope he could hear us. We were careful about what we said about his condition but tried to remind him of the good times and of our love for him.

      As for living life in the now: what’s that quote about not asking for permission but asking for forgiveness???


      If only it was / is possible to remember this when little things are dragging us down!

  • Jo Tracey
    November 15, 2012

    Oh so appropriate for now. Thankyou.

    • Debbish
      November 16, 2012

      No worries…. important lessons for us all.

  • Carolyn
    November 16, 2012


    I have to admit I have been reading your blog for months now – yet never acknowledged you – I have followed all your ups and downs, been absolutely amazed by your honesty and courage – been inspired and even shed a tear or two. I admire you and what you have done and I genuinely believe you have that novel in you. I love your writing style and truly envy how you are able to express what you are experiencing. And I’ll be honest you are the author of the only blog I genuinely follow, who is the groupie now??

    • Debbish
      November 16, 2012


      Thank you so much for your comment. I really appreciate any feedback I get and am really touched by your words.

      I really love writing and sometimes worry that I’m kidding myself and being a bit self-indulgent.

      Thanks so much.


  • Liz
    November 17, 2012

    I love this post. It’s so true. Don’t let anything hold you back from living. Your time is now!

    • Debbish
      November 20, 2012

      I hope so Liz. I can’t keep waiting….

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