Enjoy This Day While It Lasts – A Perspective of Gratitude
A year ago at this time, Katie and I were in Houston for my clinical trial. I would soon enter the toughest challenge of my life. The trial I was enrolled in wouldn’t work. The chemo would cause side effects that would alter my vision for the rest of my life. I’d struggle to walk and to take in a full breath. I’d wake up every morning and wonder if my life would ever be the same.
I vividly remember being in that place. As difficult as it was to endure, it taught me a lot about myself, what I found important, and provided me with a new perspective I might not have otherwise ever obtained. Chemotherapy, side effects, and blood tests were all the consequences of what happened to me, but I was especially conscious of what the experience meant for me. I knew I had to learn more about God, myself, others, and the world. I knew I had to prepare for the one day I would move beyond needles, pills, tests, and the unparalleled moments of heartbreak in between.
The only element of fear was induced by the thought of forgetting the lessons that I had learned. Gratitude, empathy, perseverance, patience, appreciation, love, the list goes on. I knew that one day the demands of the world would attempt to, once again, water down the significance of the only things that truly matter. The topic of survival didn’t scare me, but the thought of survival without allowing myself to learn from my experiences scared me to death.
I suppose it’s important to put into perspective that my clinical trial began the final year of a long, seven-year, up and mostly-down fight with leukemia. I didn’t always have the attitude I had in Houston. In fact, for most of my diagnosis I struggled a lot. I dropped out of school, had a difficult time managing my treatment, affording medication, and making appointments. The only emotions I allowed myself to understand were the negative feelings of selfishness, hopelessness, and depression (to name a few). It wasn’t until I met Katie in July of 2009 and moved to Dallas that August that my spirit was renewed.
I say all of that to say this: You can pay attention to the circumstances of life or you can focus on how those circumstances have the ability to provide you with incredible perspectives you may not have otherwise experienced. If you’re not learning then you’re not living. And if you’re not living, then you’re dying. Negativity is born from the thorn of entitlement. Growth is shaped by the seed of gratitude. Remove the cheese and cliche’ of the following quote long enough to realize that this day was given to you by a loving God who is on the constant pursuit of your heart. Or don’t. As I’ve learned, the choice will always be yours.