Sunday, June 20, 2010
MY FATHER, ON HOPE AND FAITH
For nearly two years my father has been living with cancer. Emphasis on LIVING.
He's an inspiration, and I am so proud he imprinted me with the philosophy found in the piece of writing that follows: an essay written by my father that will soon appear in the Bismarck Cancer Center newsletter.
Thanks, Papa, for so graciously allowing me to share it here. I love you, and Happy Father's Day!
Faith and Hope…Choices?
It’s not at all strange that those of us who are cancer survivors generally report that we have found great comfort and encouragement in words and concepts like “faith” and “hope.” In fact, it is clear that both the quality of our lives and, often, the degree of our “healing” is tremendously impacted by our ability to tap into the unlimited reservoirs of strength, fortitude and peace provided through “faith” and “hope.”
However, as important as these words and concepts are to our healing, they quite often fail to convey a critically important truth—You don’t just catch faith; you aren’t simply given hope. Instead, you first have to consciously make the decision to live, and, having chosen life, then you must choose to live your life with hope by faith.
As odd as it is, many people never get to the point where they make the distinction between merely existing and really living. How many people do you know who tend to simply tolerate their day to day lives while they long for something that will happen in the future?—they’re just marking time until they can go on a trip, meet the ideal mate, win the lotto, buy something expensive, become cured of an illness, travel, retire, etc. And what about those who live in the past or worry constantly about the future? It seems to me that all these folks are so busy just waiting to live some vague notion of “the good life” that the lives they’ve been given will probably be over before they get around to it. None of us has asked to be born. Our lives are a gift to us…and, like all gifts, if life is to be meaningful, it has to be fully accepted by the recipient—and that’s a choice.
So how do we seize the moment, how do we choose to really live, even in the face of something horrible, like cancer? Well, for one thing, we’ve got to get past the unpleasant but inescapable fact that life isn’t always fair. One of my favorite songs is by the Eagles, called “Get Over It.” Not everyone likes it—the message is a bit uncomfortable. It includes the lines: “…Victims of this, victims of that, your Daddy is too tall, your Mama is too fat…Get Over It!...” Not a soft, sweet, comfortable message, is it? But, realistic it is. Life is sometimes unfair, bad things do happen to good people, and we sometimes feel powerless to do anything about it.
But that doesn’t give us license to sink down into despair. We can choose to savor life—by focusing not on the routine, “getting by” stuff, but by concentrating on the people we truly love, the things we are passionate about, the beauty that surrounds us, the things that bring joy and happiness. I think that living—and especially living with cancer—involves accepting responsibility for our lives by making those choices necessary to ensure that in each and every moment given us we experience life to its fullest. We won’t be perfect, but we will endeavor to do the very best we can, by repeatedly choosing to feel the very best we can, to savor the good and the joyful, and to uplift those around us…And our lives will be enriched and those around us will be blessed because we choose it to be that way!
Living life to its fullest is a choice. You can choose disappointment or contentment. You can choose to focus on the people and things you love or the things you detest or fear. Leave no room in your life for anything that does not bring fulfillment…and, if you’re fighting cancer or any other horrible circumstance, choose faith and hope!
- Kenneth E. Dykes, Sr.