“It seems kind of surreal,” my wife remarked laying on the couch absorbed in her iPhone apps. We were talking about a friend of mine who died a few days earlier of cancer. I had commented to my wife that I was glad I went to visit him in the hospital only a few days before he passed away. I’m not sure he was 70 years old yet; the loss of an energetic community leader.
My wife’s statement was about my own cancer surgery in 2008. While my wife thought it all felt surreal from the vantage of the beige couch, I responded, “I think about it almost every day.”
Now, I don’t think about cancer in the gloom and doom kind of way. That episode did not paralyze my life or destroy my attitude about the future. Quite the opposite happened, really. I think about cancer almost every day and it reminds me of how blessed I am; how thankful I am for the moments I get to experience and savor.
I do feel blessed. There is gratitude for my family. They bring joy and enjoyment. The telephone calls with my daughters and son add to each day. Seeing my wife reminds me of commitments and that two people, so connected to each other, can weather much. I also enjoy a good hug from my eldest grandson or just playing gently with the brown, curled locks of my youngest’s hair as he masters yet another video game (he is three by the way).
My work—my life calling—brings intellectual, spiritual and emotional satisfaction Monday through Friday (and a number of evenings). What I do in those 8 to 10 hours isn’t really work—like labor one would dread. It is a path to legacy and service to others. I give my best to this vocation because I am reminded that the service given to another through my efforts is a high calling for life and what one owes another human being. Blessings come in unexpected ways daily because I am looking for them with those I encounter; but they also just appear from the most unexpected moments of bumping into another’s life story.
If there is a downside to this gratefulness it would be twofold: I am less patient with people who don’t count their daily blessings (because they are bountiful in this country) and I have a more even temperament about a lot of things that riled me before my cancer diagnosis and surgery. I do get angry and frustrated about issues and stuff (I am human) but I have started to see that most things “will be okay.” That may be taken as non emotional, a lack of engagement, or not caring about items which make up our everyday existence; but that would be a false assumption. I do care, I am engaged, but in the end “it will be okay.”
And the impatience? Well, many people (in my opinion) make the trivial so life important or earth shattering. I have little patience for this kind of response these days because people have lost perspective by deceiving themselves into believing they will live forever. A reality check everyone—you and I are going to die. My advice: keep all things in their proper perspective and place of importance in your life.
“Count your blessings, name them one by one,” is a song I learned early in attending church. I count them every morning and throughout the day. The ten-inch long scar I see every morning when I look at my naked torso in the mirror reminds me how blessed I am for good healthcare, family, friends, faith and all I experience in 24 hours.
Take a moment right now—or at least sometime today—to reflect on your life and its blessings. Put it all in its proper perspective. Count your blessings one by one. That simple act will keep you centered on what matters in the world and in your life, whatever amount of it you get to enjoy.
Blessings, grace and peace.