About a year ago, just when I thought I had everything in place, just when I thought I had this life figured out, life came in, picked me up, spun me around and dropped me on my head. That sounds miserable, and at first I thought it was. But soon enough, it was more than a blessing. The day I was told that I had a tumor, I thought my whole world was collapsing around me. Suddenly everything I had going for me came to a quick and complete halt. I was devastated and I thought, ‘This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me’. Little did I know then, it would actually end up being the best thing that could have ever happened to me. What I didn’t know then, was that the road ahead of me, was going to shape who I became for the rest of my life. I look back now and remember myself thinking, ‘ I’m only 22, why is this happening? This doesn’t make sense! This isn’t fair!’
What I didn’t realize then, was that this journey that was about to take me through many surgeries and cancer clinic visits, was actually a blessing and a gift, albeit, in disguise. Today, I think to myself, ‘ Why did I get to be the lucky chosen one, who would be given such a life changing experience, an experience that would lead me to peace and ultimately lead me to being a better person than I ever thought I could be? How, now at 23, was I given a journey that would show me so many things about life and within life, that some people never get to see?’ I admit, it shouldn’t have taken a threatening diagnosis to open my eyes to the life that surrounded me and all the simplicities within it that I had previously made so complicated.
To be honest, it shouldn’t have taken a tumor diagnosis to kick my gratitude into high gear, but, luckily enough for me, that’s just what it did. I’m still young, and perhaps naïve. There’s a great big world out there, and I realize that I am nothing but small within in it. I don’t claim to know much. Hell, I could spend the rest of my days on a quest for more knowledge, or a thirst for more insight, and I would never even be close to knowing anything, really. But, if for whatever reason, I was taken out of this life tomorrow, I would be able to undoubtedly say that my journeys, and the path they landed me on, led me to being completely sure of a mere few things in life. Along this journey, I learned that sometimes things just happen.
It would be nice to say and truly believe “everything happens for a reason”, but whether things do or they don’t, regardless, they happen. And, you can’t control that. As much as we may wish we could, we cannot control why, what, or how things happen to us. The only thing we are in complete control of, is how we react and how we decide to go forward. Things happen, and they aren’t always fair. Bad things happen to good people everyday. Things happen that don’t make any sense sometimes. But, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay that they don’t. I’ve learned that it’s okay to not need the answers, to not need the sense of things all the time. I learned through this challenge, to relinquish to this life and just let it take me wherever it was going take me and to truly trust in my path.
And, let me say, unclenching my fists, opening my arms and free falling into this life, letting go of all the control I thought wanted or thought I had, is one of the most euphoric feelings I’ve ever felt. When I was faced with my diagnosis, I had to figure out very quickly, who I wanted to be. The speed of light hit me and lit up my brain to the reality that there was two ways to take not only this, but, every challenge or hardship in life. I realized you either prosper or you falter. You sink or you swim. You fall or you fly. I also realized, there are two kinds of people in this world. There are the people who feel sorry for themselves, dwell, ask “why me”, and sink into pity. Or, there are the people, who take whatever they are faced with and ricochet. The same kind of people who take a miserable scenario, and find something within it to learn from, or better from.
These are the people the people that fall down 7 times, just to get back up 8. I had to decide then and there who I was going to be, and after the first option was tried and tested, I eventually chose the latter. I knew I may lose a couple battles, but I was going to survive and I was going to fight until I won the war. Very quickly, I decided I was going to be aware of my energy. I was going to be present to the fact that like attracts like. I was going to learn to project what I wanted to receive. And, frankly, it didn’t happen over night. My thought process didn’t automatically turn every annoying, or challenging situation into something positive.
I still fell victim to negative thinking sometimes. It’s taken time and hard work as well as a lot of practice and tedious affirmations. But, a year later that thought process is just instinct for the most part now and you wouldn’t believe the love, beauty, and wonderful people along with things I attract into my life, all just by shifting my outlook. On my journey, I began to realize that although I am a fanatic about the outdoors and nature, and although I adore animals and other living things around me, I had never really appreciated them in the way I should have. There was constant life surrounding me to be energized by, but for whatever reason, I had never taken advantage of that.
So I started, and its one of the best things I’ve ever done. Moreover, I’ve always believed that I am very blessed to live the life I have, and I’ve always seen myself as over-privileged. I truly have always tried to give back to the needy and less fortunate, but this experience made me come face to face with just how much I may have taken my life for granted. Even if things took a turn for the worse, and lets say my tumor had spread, say I had cancer through out my body; I would have still been in a much better place than the majority of this world. I had to get real with myself and question how much I really did to give back? I had to question, ‘if I did get taken out of this world tomorrow, would I be proud of who I was? Would I have done enough in terms of giving back while I could?’
The reality was that the answer was a hard no. For how amazing my life had been, I hadn’t taken nearly enough time to help the less fortunate, to donate my time to a good cause, to just simply and truly really help all the people and things around me that could use some help. When I came to terms with this and what I needed to change in going forward, I had this beautiful epiphany. I realized that every single person in this world is born the same way and that we all come into this world the same way. At the end of the day, the way I see it, we are all ultimately brothers and sisters under one sun, wasn’t it time to start acting like it?
Lastly, it opened my eyes to the very real fact that you never know when life could slip out from under you. People always say “Life is short” but when you’re standing in a tunnel and you can’t spot the light, you realize, it’s a lot damn shorter than they say. I started noticing how much I and other people talk about what we will do tomorrow, but what if tomorrow never comes? It was time to start doing things now, because I realized you might not get a tomorrow. I learned, that if I truly wanted something; to go after it with all my heart, and all my might. There was no time left for hesitancy because I realized if I didn’t go after what I wanted now, I may never get the chance to. It was time to go after whatever I wanted whole heartedly, it was time to go after it with no apologies, with passion, with integrity, strength, and complete belief in whatever it may be. I learned to make sure I told the ones I loved, that I loved them.
I made a conscious effort to vocalize my gratitude to the people I loved. I realized that I needed to do this far more than I did because you really never know when it may be your last chance. And I learned, that whenever it is I fall in love, to jump in- all in. Life’s too short to play games, or to settle. It’s too short to not fully let somebody see who you really are. So whenever that day comes, I decided that I would taken down every guard I had up, and that I would take off every cover I had draped on. I would love with every fiber in my being, because if I don’t, I knew I’d always wish I had. Today, against all the odds, I stand proudly with a clean bill of health. Today, I look at my journey, what I learned, who it made me, what it led me to and I look at the path it landed me on, and I truly wouldn’t change one single thing about it. I’m ready and I’m excited for whatever life throws at me next.