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Mark's Heartbeats



  • Dear All,

    This was posted on my personal FB page, but since some of you might not see that, I've repeated the posting below for the Isadora community to read.

    The main point for you all to know is that I'm doing fine after a minimally invasive heart surgery to repair a valve that was defective since birth.

    But I also encourage you to read the entire post because I wrote it as a reminder about living life passionately – something I hope Isadora serves to help all of you do.

    Warm Wishes to All,
    Mark

    ------


    So 11 days ago, as doctors snuck in between my ribs to repair a valve that had been defective since birth, my heart did not beat for about three hours.

    Now, I'll start by saying that the surgery went perfectly and I am doing fine. I am weakened, but getting stronger every day. After a few weeks I'll be even stronger than before. But given that you now know I have just survived a serious operation, I'll leverage your sympathy and ask that you read this whole, long post. 

    SO....

    Before this operation, I had planned to write a rather mystical post about the space between life and death, given that having a heartbeat is one of the primary signs of being alive and that I knew I would be without one for a time. But instead, I'm going to share you what my hospital roommate taught me about heartbeats, because that's the unexpected way life turns sometimes.

    If you're not wealthy, a long hospital stay implies at least one roommate. Who that person might be is, of course, a total crapshoot. Moreover, probability tells you the chances of having someone you don't connect with is high, and that the chances of that person being annoying are not insignificant.

    But in this episode of "Mark's Incredibly Charmed Life" the universe gifted me a spry, 70 year-old gentleman who had just completed full-on, open heart surgery. As we talked over the first 48 hours, I learned that my roommate was a proper OG: a first generation, Stonewall era, out-of-the closet, gay man. In 1975, when it was incredibly risky and scary to do so, my roommate bravely let people in his tiny Austrian town know, "I am Gay AF. Get used to it." (For oldsters like me, "Gay AF" means "Gay As Fuck" and, no, you cannot give the proper vibe of my roommate without the expletive.  )

    I did not expect to be paired with someone who was a true elder, someone with whom I felt honored and blessed to spend time with as we told stories of our lives and took care of each other as we convalesced. 

    Even though his surgery was more severe than mine, he graced me with many incredible stories of his life: trips to Berlin to party wildly in the super-out clubs that immediately popped up just after the wall came down; an epic motorcycle journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Big Sur along with a cadre of his gay, European buddies. It went on and on. Every story was wonderful and incredible because each was so charged with the power of presence and being totally alive.

    On the fourth day, just after my darling Eni closed the door after her daily visit, he asked "What is the difference in your age?" Here, my roommate hit on a topic that I am always a little self conscious about – a feeling currently heightened by the fact I was recovering from a major operation.

    "Twenty years," I replied.

    Looking at me with knowing eyes, he calmly said: "I guessed as much. My husband was also 20 years younger than me. We were together 15 years, but then, out of nowhere, a heart attack took him from me and he was gone."

    In that moment, my heart stopped beating for the second time in five days.

    Perhaps yours did too? Perhaps, right now, you are like I was at that moment: dumbstruck, fervently considering everyone and everything you love dearly because you have just received a potent reminder that all of it could _literally_ be gone in a heart beat.

    Let me emphasize: ALL OF IT GONE IN A HEARTBEAT.

    Probability helps us contend with uncertainty. It helps us to predict what _might_ happen. Probability tells us that it will be the older one that will be lost first. Probability told me that there was a 99% chance I would be fine after my heart operation and could go off with Eni to seek an even deeper love and even bolder adventures.

    But my roommate's tale was a reminder that probability is a tool of comfort; it will never tell you what is _really_ going to happen. The hard fact is that NOTHING is certain. Until we embrace that fact, we cannot be alive.

    So, as my happy heart ticks away with its beautifully crafted valve repair, I am reminding you (and myself) to be as wildly present as you possibly can towards everyone and everything you love. From being ecstatic as you eat mozzarella covered with tomatoes and basil freshly picked from your garden, to sharing an orgasm with your beloved that shakes you both to your core, I am here to remind you that all of it deserves your complete and utter presence.

    If you wish to honor me as I recover, then do the following: decide what you value most today, go be with that person or that experience, and hug the very life out of it. And then do that again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that...

    Because it could all be gone in a single heartbeat.

    --------

    (To my readers: the photograph here was intended to be uplifting, so it hides several little holes in my body, some nasty looking bruises, my new, beautiful scar, and the fact that it takes very little effort for me to get out of breath at the moment. Heart surgery is not a walk in the park, and it is important to acknowledge that fact here. If any of you might ever face a minimally invasive mitral valve repair, please PM me. I'd be happy to share my experience.)

    ------

    (To my roommate: my deep thanks to you for being such a brave and inspiring soul. You helped erase the unpleasantries of a hospital stay with your wonderful and inspiring stories, with your incredible, twinkling character, and by offering us both a chance to care for each other. I am so glad I met you!)

    -----

    (POnly because I spent a couple of hours on it, and because it totally comes off as Phototshopped in the picture: I want you to know the heart and yellow lines in the picture are *real* --- I crafted the whole thing from construction paper and taped it all together for this picture taken by Eni.)


  • Beta Platinum

    @mark

    Wow! I was just not expecting to read this when I checked into the forum today! thank you for sharing and I hope you make a full and fast recovery. I had imagined you were on holiday taking a well earned break or were off doing some other important and uplifting personal activity. Your hospital room mate appears to have been a perfect companion for unveiling the spirit and to ensure the proper passage to recovery.

    Best Wishes

    Russell



  • This is an extraordinary reflection, thank you deeply for sharing it!


    To your speedy and full recovery.



  • This is really beautiful Mark. So glad you are doing well and recovering. My wife saw the Facebook post this evening and alerted me (I rarely look at Facebook unless I have to). Thoughts are with you.

    Sheldon



  • Dear Mark,
    I hope you will soon be completely healthy again to live the next 100 years. The experience of your roommate does not have to become yours.

    best

    Jean-François



  • Thanks Mark!


  • Beta Gold

    Thanks for sharing all that Mark. Now we all understand better one of my favourites quotes ever "We have two lives. The second starts the moment we understand that we have only one". Hence, Live the moment. Fully. Hard to do. But we need to try and try and try.....



  • Mark:

    What a beautiful post.  Heal quickly. But do live in the moment!

    All the best!!



  • Dear Mark, 

    good to hear that you are well! and thanx for sharing that inspiring experience...

    all the best 

    Bodo



  • ❤✔thought provoking news



  • Amazing post. Thanks for sharing these thoughts in this warm and open way. I'm new to the Isadora community, and I feel privileged reading this. Very best wishes for continuing good health to you, and to everyone here in the Izzosphere...

    rob



  • @notdoc said:

     I'm new to the Isadora community, and I feel privileged reading this.

     Well, I had to laugh because your handle is "not doc" an I guess that means I can't ask for any additional advice about my recovery since you clearly are not a doctor. ;-)

    But just to say it for anyone else who might be new here: yes, this is very personal. But even when I'm focused on Isadora, I am an artist first. Sharing insight and inspiration that leads us to embrace life is part of doing that job. To say it another way, Isadora and the community that surrounds her is a lot more than code.

    So, thanks to everyone who has read my post. Thanks for for letting me share my passage through what was most certainly a scary moment, even though I always felt certain it would all come out well.

    Best Wishes,
    Mark

    P.S. And while the team continues to work be in "full steam ahead" mode it also serves to let the community know that I'm not my usual capacity for work. Given that I am an integral part of Isadora's growth in terms of new features, etc., I wanted to be fully transparent about what was happening with me at the moment.



  • Merveilloso!  And inspiring.  Good recovery to you!


  • Beta Gold

    💓 Recover well Mark!



  • @mark

    Speedy recovery on your operation. What a  beautiful story. Rest well.

    Simon



  • Take it easy, hope you get stronger soon and recover well.


  • Tech Staff

    Gute Besserung 🌸🌈



  • All the best in your recovery, get well soon !