“I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.” – Khaled Hosseini, And The Mountains Echoed
Sometimes we aren’t aware of our own greatness. Perhaps someone told us long ago that it was no so, that we weren’t special. Maybe our belief in ourselves was lost somewhere on the long road of life, torn away by lovers as they left, by dreams as they disappeared. For many, as in my case, our belief in our abilities to be great were worried and withered away in illness.
Whatever the case, we often find ourselves at a place in life much different than the place we’d imagined we would arrive. This is what is nostalgically called “life,” as in “that’s life,” or “life sucks.” But does it really? Can we honestly say that life is bad? We see our circumstances, but we forgot how we got here. We don’t realize that the insurmountable odds we are waiting against for something extraordinary to happen… is ourself.
I’ve had many dreams in my life, and I’ve seen most of them relinquished for a moment of security, or a choice I thought was one well made. As I look back now, I often wonder how different my life would be had I made my choices based on a dream, on a moral ground, on what I knew was the right thing to do. While I’m grateful for the wonderful people in my life, I also realize that I chose them to be there. They are the victories I’ve had along the way. But so many people on that same journey were lost to me.
But mostly, I think I lost myself.
There are times in life when we are faced with setback, struggle or sickness. Of those three setback is the easiest to overcome. It means we’ve lost ground, but have not lost the prize. Perhaps with hard work, with a change of heart, or with a new direction, setback can become victory. Our choices guide us.
Then there is struggle. This is by far more challenging, because struggle is when the road disappears. We don’t know if we are going in the right direction, only that the way is incredibly hard. Struggle lasts, struggle steals hope and heart, and puts us in a shell where our thoughts turn from the good we can do, do the very least we must do. The only way through is perseverance. And we know that those who persevere finally reach their destination, scarred, but safe. But not everyone perseveres.
And then there is sickness. I’ve familiar with them all, but most familiar with this one. This is when the darkness comes. In an instant, we are transformed into mortal beings, and faced with the many days we wasted doing things that made no difference, and also faced with the few days that remain and the choices they hold.
But there is a gift there. There is a gift in knowing your days are fleeting. For you see something more valuable than money, more valuable than all the wealth in the world. The only thing this insight is not more valuable than is time.
The insight is this: we are the obstacles in our own lives. Every struggle, every setback, every challenge can and will pass. It only takes a choice. It takes no more energy to destroy than it does to build. It takes no more risk to do something safe as it does to do something brave. You can’t add days to your life either way. It takes no more thought to think you can’t than it does to think you can. Something extraordinary can happen to you. But you must choose it.
It would be so easy now, to go back in time and change the things I wished I’d done. It takes no more energy to live with regrets, than it does to live without regrets.