In your darkest hour, when life is unbearable and the odds are against you, you have a choice to make. You can choose to be consumed by the gravitational force of your challenge, as it pulls you further into its negativity. Or you can choose to let it roll off of you, focusing on being positive.
You may think that you do not have such a choice. Ah, you would be so wrong. You get to choose how you will react and live through the challenge. The choice you make determines how you will feel each and every day. It is the difference between seeing the beauty of the sun’s rays through the clouds and being blinded by its brightness.
Life Lessons from a Dying Man
My father is dying. This week I sat beside him as the medical world pumped vile chemicals through his body in an effort to give him a bit more time here with us. In one week I’ve watched this man that I’ve admired my entire life go from giving me a big bear hug as the first drops of chemo dripped into his vein to the weak, tired old man laying quietly in his recliner.
He barely goes more than a couple of hours without needing to sleep. I watch him talk with the revolving door of relatives and friends as he grows more weary. His breaths are slow and measured. His movements are short and minimal. He’s tired, in pain, and trying to just live.
Yet he stops to make me laugh.
Although the doctors say he is already halfway through the two weeks they gave him to survive, he talks of raking leaves in the fall and what he and I will do next year. He wakes up each morning, breathes in the new day, and just gets up to start his day.
He is not focused on the outcome. Rather, he is right here, in this moment. It is just another day to him.
I tell a joke that only he and I get. Now and then I can get a full bore laugh, one that shakes his entire body as he enjoys the moment.
When someone asks him how he’s coping, he talks of my miracle and how he knows he will be here next year. He is very matter of fact. Delusion is not a part of him. No, life has always flowed off his back, unfiltered and true. My being here when I died two years ago fills him with more than hope. It carries him as he soars over the pain.
Being in the now
My father is dying, but he is showing us how to live. He is not afraid and I understand that. For him, he’s happy for the moment, each moment.
You may think he is in denial, but having hope helps him to cope. Ah but then you are focusing on the end result and outcome rather than the journey. You see my father and mother both stressed being in the now. They didn’t worry about the future or what may or may not happen. Why? Because you can’t control it and it is unpredictable.
And for this outcome, this end, why would we want to start this journey at that point? Why would we want to wake up each morning and fill our lungs and hearts with the crushing pain that has not yet happened?
You see, this week, I watched my father live what he has always taught to me. And if you ask him how he feels, he’ll say his body feels awful, but his mind is on a beach and he’s ready to get past this chapter and go enjoy life. You’ll see the ocean breezes in his eyes.
Focusing your mind on hope
Life is filled with challenges. Some will be bumps along the way. Others will be unbearable. How will you face each one? Do you jump to the end, skipping the journey, immersing yourself in the full force of its negativity? Or do you get up and just face the day with a smile on your face?
My father’s method of living can teach you how to choose a path that lifts you above the whatever challenge is upon you. In spite of the pain, fear, and grief, he chooses to have hope and focus on optimism.
You may think he’s is trying to ignore his pain. Yes, he is. Believe me, he feels the pain. But by focusing on positive things and surrounding himself with positivity, all of the positive energy permeates into him, elevating his mind and heart. He does not think he’ll get a miracle. That is not the point. Rather, he feels the power of mine and how it transformed my life.
We can all learn from how to live our lives from this dying man.