Saturday, December 20, 2014

Just Can't Shake This Cancer


I have a friend who may be dying. No one can know for sure. She has cancer. Everywhere. She speaks in ifs. IF I make it six months. IF I see the new year. She has come to terms with the fact that her life is seeing its end, that this may be her last Christmas, her last turn of the calendar. She has pursued every avenue of medical intervention but is quick to share that she just can’t shake this cancer. She is spunky, funny, and often deliciously inappropriate. My friend is my age.

Needless to say, I am reflecting.

My friend is struggling with her purpose in life. Why is she here? What has she done with her time? Don’t we ALL struggle with this?

As I look back on just this past year, I am too quick to see the many places I fell short. I have a job I love, yes, but am only in the classroom part-time. I have never managed that full-time, tenured status. I fritter. I fritter away my time on Facebook, on horoscope reading, on small talk, on dancing through my kitchen with spatulas and wooden spoons belting out Jingle Bell Rock when I should be doing serious things with a serious face. I have made dozens of lists and managed to cross off only a handful of items. I quit my doctoral program simply because it wasn’t singing to my heart. I never found an agent.

I had a psychic reading once.

Okay. I’ve had many.

In this particular reading, the woman tells me that I struggle with my purpose in life, that I am too focused on purpose as career. She tells me that purpose is not a nine to five concept but a way of being, that purpose is NOT what I DO but rather who I AM. She says that I am able to touch a soul just by my smile, just by a word, a hug, a have a great day.

And, so, I try again to reflect on my year. I make a concerted effort to focus on the positive, on what I DID do, on what HAPPENED instead of what did not. I remember to focus on purpose as a way of being. I remember my friend and her ifs and think how I would feel if I were the one speaking in ifs.

And so I come to this.

My year has been indeed truly blessed. I furthered my education, recommitted to my writing. I have a job that allows me the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others. I have spaces in my life, spaces that I can spend on things that make me laugh and think and smile, spaces that I fill with time on Facebook, reconnecting with old friends, making new friends, and staying in touch with those who were already friends. I have spaces in my life in which I can sing and dance and throw smiles into the hearts of those around me, spaces in which I can be silly, in which I can spend chatting up baristas, sales clerks, and random instructors in the faculty mailroom. I have made dozens of lists this year in the hopes of building myself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I have managed to cross off a good number of items on those lists. I posted another book to Amazon and began a project that has managed to feed hundreds of hungry individuals. I have my health, my family, and my home. I have good friends, plenty to eat, and money to travel. As I look back, I can say that, yes, I have truly been blessed.

No one can know when his or her time will end. But it WILL end. It will end for EACH of us. I refuse any longer to look back on my time in regret, to waste it by wishing it away, to curse it by spitting in the face of what I HAVE done to the glory of what I have NOT. I have endured pain, yes, but have conquered it, have endured struggle but have persevered. I have continued every day to move forward in my journey, have shined a light into the lives of those I have touched. I have laughed, have loved, and have lived. In the end, that is what matters most. I have loved. And I have lived.