I’ve read this story before, long before I wrote these words. You see it often when people have slammed into a wall and been greeted with their own mortality. In my case, the wall was cancer, a word I never expected to hear that day. Yet, I think it was something I had been preparing my whole life to cope with.
I have jokingly told my friends that I made a deal with God to live forever for as long as I could remember. It was my way of deflecting my mortality and believing that I was ready for anything. I wasn’t, of course. At some point, before the word cancer, I began donning a new set of perspectives.
If you’re like most people you have a need to control every aspect of your life. You guard yourself from being hurt, from change, from anything that doesn’t fit your ideal circumstance. You may not admit it, or even see it, but there it is guiding your every movement through life. Most of the time, you don’t even notice this particular perspective. You’re so used to it that it seems perfectly natural to hide in the safety of it.
I realized that I didn’t have control and more importantly didn’t want control. Life is beautiful in the way that it moves like a river, either carrying us along or moving around us if we get in the way. You can drown in that river or you can go with the flow. We’re told that going with the flow is a form of weakness. It is actually the most sincere form of strength to allow life to grant you opportunities to seize.
When you allow life to carry you along, you begin to see that you have a purpose that life intends for you to accomplish, to change, grow and meet new challenges with a fresh perspective each time. My wife shared with me a beautiful narrative about change that demonstrated personal transformation through the eyes of caterpillar.
Change. Caterpillars go into themselves and melt, reprograming each and every particle into a part of the butterfly that it will eventually become. That melting stage is crucial, that’s the stage when you question all that you are and use it to build the person on the other side of the perspective shift. That’s what I’ve been going through lately.
Laura, my wife, bought me a book titled “Believe” while I was in the hospital. The following quote really touched me.
“We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.” ~ Charlotte Lunsford
Cancer saved me from a life that I would hate, in a career that I would despise and allowed me one final opportunity to let go of the puppet strings of my life. While sitting in the hospital listening to the stories of all the nurses, doctors, and family members visiting their relatives I changed a little more each day. Is it crazy to be grateful for cancer? Maybe. I’m applying to pursue a doctorate so that I can follow through with becoming a professor, so that I can make a difference.
Make a difference. Today.