Saturday, January 19, 2013

Worth a second look...

I recently read a quote on Pinterest that I absolutely loved and I can't seem to get out of my head....
"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.  Your life will never be the same again."  
I was reminded of a post that I had "guest posted" in a friend's blog last year... and I figured it was worth a second post here.  Why not? 
Food for thought...
Towards the end of my brother Charles' battle with cancer, I spent a lot of time taking the train from Connecticut to New York – walking from Grand Central Station to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – I had a lot of time alone with my thoughts.   I was angry. I was sad.  
I was devastated.
I tried to make sense of what was happening.  I was confused and I wanted answers.  WHY WAS THIS HAPPENING?
On the last night I saw Charles before he passed, I took a cab from the hospital back to the train station and then the train back home to Connecticut.  It was late – but of course, the city was still hopping. People were out everywhere.  
As I sat in the back of the cab and watched people going by I began thinking about THEIR lives.  I had no idea what their lives were like – just as they had no idea about mine.   
Were they sad? Were they feeling lonely? Was someone sick in their family? Were THEY sick themselves?   I didn’t know.
And I thought if they looked at me, would they know that I had just said goodbye to my dying brother for the last time?  
No, certainly not. 
And in that little moment…. I realized everyone, EVERYONE has a struggle.  EVERYONE you meet is dealing with something that is bigger than they are…. an illness, a sick child, a job loss.  
It was truly an “a-HA” moment for me.      And I thought, If everyone could go through life remembering that, wouldn’t this world be a kinder, gentler place?    If I went through my life with a little twist on how I thought about things….
“That guy who just cut me off at the traffic light…. Maybe he’s going to visit his sick mother in the hospital.”  or…. “That woman who didn’t say thank you when I held the door for her…. Maybe her dog just died.”  Wouldn’t that put a different spin on things?  Wouldn’t I be more tolerant? Less angry? More accepting and kind? 
In the days leading up to Charles’ death and in the time since he has passed - I’ve seen a lot of good.  A LOT of good.   I have seen acts of kindness that have truly humbled me.  And I’ve had to reassess who I am as a person….what I’m teaching my own children…and what my purpose is in this life.  
And while I am still completely devastated by my brother’s death and by the loss I feel with him no longer here, I have to think on the positive end that I’ve gained something as well… a new perspective, a new way of thinking.
If I’m having a bad day, maybe the person behind me in line at the grocery store is having a WORSE day.  Sometimes it takes a little bit of stepping outside of yourself, seeing past your own problems and knowing that sometimes, someone has it a little bit worse.   In taking that step, you start to see…. Maybe my problem isn’t so bad. 
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this…and no, I don’t have the answers as to why my brother got cancer and why he died at the age of twenty five.  
But I’d like to think that I learned something through his ordeal.  I’d like to think that I took away a “big picture” idea and that I’ll be a better person having seen what he went through.  
Maybe adjusting the way I think and seeing the bigger picture IS the good that has come. Maybe passing it on and paying it forward is how I am going to turn this bad thing into something good.  
Because I KNOW I’m not going to be the one curing cancer, but maybe the little things I do, the kindness I show, the lessons I teach my children – that we’re all only human and we’re all in this life together… Maybe all those little things will add up to something great. 
Peace Love and RIGHT NOW

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