This time 12 years ago I was driving home from Oakland Children’s Hospital after finishing my first round of chemotherapy. My dad was driving my grandma and I home in her white Toyota Camry. It was a rainy night…a good metaphor for the next 5 years.
When I think about those moments I think about how fucking lucky I am to be here tonight, able to write this.
This evening I watched a movie. It was called “Now Is Good.’ It chronicled a young 17 year old girl diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia who was out of options and decided it was time for her to live her life. No more chemo…if she would die she would live her life as fully as possible first. Throughout the movie I consistently resonated with the situations she was in…and it reminded me to live.
I began going through the numerous memories of vomiting, feeling so sick I couldn’t lift my head up, the weakness, not being able to recognize myself in the mirror…but most of all I remembered how I promised myself to live. I promised myself that I wouldn’t take life for granted, that I would every day as if it was my last. I promised myself that I would make it through the treatment and I be a demonstration for others.
When the girl died in the movie I thought how it could have been me. It brought me tears thinking about how that was the reality for many of my friends. Around this time 10 years ago I was waiting for a bone marrow transplant donor. I had nothing to go off of. Only the notion that a bone marrow transplant was a 50% cure rate and the belief in my heart that I would make it through it and be normal again.
I am grateful for these movies because they allow me to do my inner work. They allow me to self-question…”Would my younger self be proud of me? Am I living true to myself? Am I living for my friends whose voices are no longer heard? Am I making the impact on the world that I promised myself? Am I living the life I will be proud of? If I was to be given a 50/50% chance tomorrow would I change how I treat others and the risks that I take” These questions drift through my mind this evening.
And what I find from these inner quests is that I didn’t come to play it safe! I did not come as a soul experiencing this reality to play it safe. I didn’t come to worry myself with matters that are not important. And I didn’t come to wait.
When death is glaring at you so closely you gain a different perspective. You begin to look at things that truly matter…the relationships you have, the vessel that carries you, the joy in your heart. Nothing else matters. The bills will get paid, the tests will be taken, the cars will get fixed, but when you look back you will remember the kiss of your lover, the hug of your parent, the laugh of your brother, the fur of your puppy, the jokes with your friends…nothing else matters.
You see, based on statistics I should be dead, but I’m not. I’m here, right now…and that’s all that matters. The suffering I experienced allowed me a new perspective…I get to see the world through the eyes of the dying…of the dead. I can see the beauty in the flower blooming, because at times I didn’t know when I would see that flower again…I can appreciate a smile over and over because there was a time when I didn’t know if those pearly whites would be shining back at me. I can bask in the touch of someone’s skin because there was a time when I didn’t know if I would make it to the day to experience that perfection.
You see, I should be dead, but I’m not…and neither are you. What I’ve ultimately realized is that I am here for a reason, THERE IS A DAMN REASON I AM HERE…AND YOU TOO! Right now, right this very moment is the chance for us to see that! We are not here to wait for our job to make us happy, for our lovers touch to make us happy, for us to get healthy and then be happy…happiness is our choice NOW! Right now is the chance to live the life we want! Right now is the chance to go talk to that person who manages the business you want, right now is the chance to talk to that person who makes your heart beat faster, RIGHT NOW is the chance to start an exercise routine and begin nourishing your body with nature’s gifts.
You see, I should be dead, but I’m not…and I realized that that is a gift. This moment right now is my chance to give love to the world. Right now is my chance to tell you that I love you and we are all going through shit. Right now is my chance to tell you that you are strong enough and worthy enough to do what your heart calls you towards. Right now is my chance to say thank you…thank you for being you!
You see, I should be dead, but I’m not…and that’s a gift. So I ask you…if you only had one week to live, if you had one week to make a difference, one week to give all your love to your friends, family, lover, strangers, how would you start living? Find that and live that now.
All My Love,