I am standing on our balcony watching the sunset fade into the distance of our Las Vegan residence. The air is hot, sticky, and stagnant. It reminds me of Louisiana. The normal evening clamor is tranquil for once, and it gives me the peace I need to contemplate.
I don't bother asking "Why me?" anymore, because that question doesn't make sense. If not me, then it's someone else. And that doesn't make me feel any better; it offers no relief - only regret.
I also know I don't suffer alone. Some have easier problems, some have worse problems, and some have problems that are simply just different from mine. But in the end, we all suffer - in one way or another.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am a fatalist, yet I also accept the power of free will. I believe that certain events in our life are predetermined and destined to happen, no matter what. However, I accept the notion that we are empowered to influence the outcome of these events. This is the philosophical concept of compatibilism.
Every major event in my life was/is meant to happen, yet I have the power to choose how I react to each and every occurrence. I also have the ability to influence the outcome. My beliefs are best explained in the classic joke, in which a person prays to the Lord and asks him to help him win the lottery:
Sam was in dire trouble. His business had gone bust and he was in serious financial trouble. He was so desperate he decided to pray for help. He began, "God, please help me. I've lost my business and if I don't get some money, I'm going to lose my house as well. Please let me win the lottery." Lottery night came and Sam didn’t win. Again Sam prays, "God, please let me win the lottery! I've lost my business, my house and I'm going to lose my car as well." Lotto night comes and Sam still has no luck. Once again, he prays, "My God, why have you forsaken me? I've lost my business, my house, and my car. My wife and children are starving. I don't often ask you for help and I have always been a good servant to you. PLEASE just let me win the lottery this one time so I can get my life back in order." Suddenly there is a blinding flash of light as the heavens open. Sam is confronted by the voice of God Himself: "Sam," says God, "Meet Me halfway on this. Buy a bloody ticket!!!" [http://www.playlotteryonline.co.uk/Jokes.htm]
I have always been a good person. Not a great person, not a bad person, but simply a good person. I could be better - naturally, I am no Mother Theresa. But I can honestly say I have never killed someone or something (beyond the occasional ant in my house or the tragic accident involving a pet gerbil in the sixth grade). I have not committed adultery. I have never stolen a single thing past the age of seven years old.
[It was a pack of $1 fabric "friendship" rings. I dragged my poor cousin Em along for the ride, gave one to my mother, and got in serious trouble with her. I had to pay for the rings out of my miniscule birthday money, got a dramatic talking to from the store manager about going to jail next time, and I didn't even get to keep the darn things. I effectively learned my lesson.]
My life has been turned upside down for several years now, battling various illnesses and ailments, all of them somewhat interrelated. And these diseases and conditions are always exotic and generally rare (side note: I am tired of being interesting to doctors). But this last bit of news has taken me, and everyone close to me, for a complete whirlwind rollercoaster. And I have never liked carnival rides.
But as I stand on our balcony, the sky now faded to black and sparsely showering fat raindrops, I realize that perhaps this is my second chance at life. If I get through surgery and come out okay (minus several tumors and cysts, and perhaps an organ or three missing), that maybe this is God telling me to do things differently this time around. Not everyone gets the opportunity for a fresh start, but perhaps this is His gift to me.
I wonder what I will do differently if given that chance. Most of them are cliche. Some of them are more drastic. But they all involve self-reflexivity and giving back more than what I ask for myself. I have spent the last five years in a strange limbo of being focused on myself and my health...and it is borderline pathetic and toxic to one's soul to be that self-absorbed.
If given a second chance, I will not squander it. This is my ouroboros, the recreation of myself without giving death to the old. I still want to be me, just a better version of me. I can't wait to have the energy and lack of pain so I can volunteer more in my community, be more active in my relationships with my family, possess the vigor and clarity of mind to write vignettes again, be a better worker, a better friend, a better servant to the Lord, and a better wife to a loving husband who has put up with countless days where I am too weak to rise up from the blankets of our bed. I have failed on several accounts. Not only do I deserve more, but others warrant more than I have been able to give.
I am not saying that I won't be scared or have moments where I break down and weep out of pure fear. But I refuse to cry victim. I will no longer claim it is unfair. Everyone has a path to follow, and this is the path chosen for me. Now it is up to me on how I will handle it. It is time for me to make the decision on how I handle all of this.
I am making the choice to be wise. To be humble. To be gracious. And most importantly, I am making the choice to be strong and resilient.
I choose to be the serpent who bites her own tail in order to be reborn into something more.
I am ready.