You know, I have come to the decision that life is what you make of it. Period, end of story. Of course, there are a dozen corny illustrations I could use here, so, pick out your favorite one and insert it anytime you want. But, I am grateful that it is left up to us to decide what we are going to do with what we have to work with in this life. Because I am here to tell you, I am SO VERY GLAD that what I get out of life is not left to someone else! As you might expect, I am going to take this thought and run with it for a while. So, sit back and enjoy the ride, hope you gain something from it.
Case number 1. Today, was a typical “run like mad trying to get everything done” kind of day, and found me slowing down at 2:00 at McDonald’s to grab something for lunch. Sorry, this is not a lesson on eating healthy, just a fact needed to complete the story. Anyway, I am getting out of my car to walk inside and I notice a fancy dancy Cadillac pull into the parking area near me, taking up two spaces (one of my buttons that can be pushed to get me going). An older man, dressed in casual wear (shorts, polo shirt) hustles into the restaurant carrying a bag. I think to myself, “Well, there is a carry out order that wasn’t correct.” He beat me to the door and marched himself right up to the counter, ignoring the three people that were standing in line. His complaint? They filled his hot fudge sundae up too high so he couldn’t take the lid off without ice cream dripping over the sides. He blistered the poor teenage girl at the register demanding a new one. She politely (I was impressed, I am not so sure I would have handled this situation as well as she did) made him a new one and apologized for the mistake (that someone else made). Without a thank you or any other response, the man whirled and stomped out. Wow, what a scene.
I bit my lip to keep my mouth shut. I wanted to say something so badly but I chose to stay quiet. Inside, though, it burned me up to see what had just happened. You see, life is what you make of it. This guy was ticked off because there was too much ice cream to open up the lid, and demanded a new sundae with less ice cream. Me? I would have rejoiced in the fact that I got more for my money! Who wouldn’t want to get more ice cream and hot fudge on their sundae??? For goodness sakes, it is a 99 cent sundae! What’s this guy like on something really important? Life is what you make it. I am glad that guy isn’t making the decisions in my life, I think I would be miserable.
Case number 2. Yesterday (Monday) I had to go to the Moffitt Cancer, in Tampa, for my 3 month CT scan. Oh, yes, it is one of my favorites (make sure to read this statement with sarcasm). You get to drink these delicious barium milk shakes (they come in 4 flavors: Very berry; Orchard apple; Tropical Banana; and Tangy orange. Take your pick, they all taste the same…. gross) 2 hours before the scan. Of course, you have to fast the day of the scan, so I haven’t had anything to eat for 14 hours. Anyway, most of that was useless information (unless you were just dying to know the prep work leading up to a CT scan) to lead into the point of the story. During the 2 hours prior to the scan, I was sitting in the waiting room with dozens of others who were there for various tests, treatments, etc., for their cancer. We are all in this boat together, but it is very interesting to sit in the waiting room and just watch and listen. You can learn a lot about life (and death) here, in places like this.
Most of us there were by ourselves (although one of my favorite girls from youth group that goes to school now in Tampa came by in between classes and visited with me for a while which was wonderful), although there were a few in there with mates or relatives. It is like most any waiting room, several groupings of chairs (you know, the kind that are connected together) with a TV in the corner. Now, this is what I noticed, while sitting there in deep observation. Almost all, no matter what stage of illness they were in at the time, sat quietly, staring straight ahead, going to great lengths not to make eye contact with anyone. Then, there were a few that went to great lengths to create a conversation with anyone that would talk to them (very friendly, very outgoing). And then there were those watching the TV. I was in that group (I know, what a shocker).
We were watching an episode of the TV series, “Coach.” If you have ever seen Coach, you know it is a comedy, and it really is funny. (Jerry Van Dyke is absolutely one of the funniest guys I have ever watched on TV. I don’t know how they filmed this stuff with straight faces!) And I have come to realize, in the past 3 years of fighting cancer, that one of the greatest truths comes from Reader’s Digest. You know, the section called, “Humor, the best medicine.” I have found that watching comedies, and laughing IS REALLY the best medicine! Laughing just makes you feel good!
So, anyway, there were only 4 of us really watching the show, all the others were doing what I just described. And the episode was really funny and there we were, 4 of us (3 men and 1 woman) laughing. Now, at first, we just sort of chuckled (we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves I guess). But then, one of the men started to laugh out loud. The next thing you know the 4 of us are laughing out loud to the point that we were all but making a disturbance in the waiting room (for those who know me this is really not a surprise).
But you know what? Life is what you make it. And on Monday, January 30th, I saw 3 people that made the best of the situation. All of my anxiety, stress, and worry was taken away, for a few moments, in that waiting room. For just a little while, everything was OK, not just for me, but for the others as well. Life is what you make it. I went in for the scan with a smile on my face. I joked with the nurses and had good conversations with all of them. Even the tech guy behind the lead lined wall came out to visit. Why? Maybe it was because they deal with dreadful situations hour after hour, day after day. And finally a few people came through the door with a smile on their faces. Maybe it made their jobs a little bit better that day.
My favorite line was with the nurse that had to insert the needle for the contrast dye they give you during the scan. She asked how I was doing, and I replied, “pretty good considering you just stuck a really sharp piece of metal into my arm!” She laughed out so hard I thought she was going to mess up the shot! (for the record, be careful when you make wise cracks). After the scan was over I talked for a couple more minutes with the staff (might as well get my money’s worth while I am there, right?). They asked me what I did for a living, which, in return, gave me a chance to witness my faith with them. 2 of the 3 were faithful church goers who believed in faith based medicine. Cool, huh? I left the radiology department with a smile on my face and headed to the main lobby to rest a few minutes before driving the hour drive back home.
Life is what you make it. Did the barium make me sick? Yes. Did the shot hurt? You bet. Am I still fighting cancer? Of course. But, the moral of the story is, we all get to decide what we are going to get out of life. Only we can decide whether or not we are going to wear a frown or a smile each day. Whether we are going to get all upset over something (big or small) or let it run off our backs like water on a duck. Thank goodness we don’t have to let someone else make that decision for us. Job’s wife, during his affliction, told him to curse God and die. Sorry, she is not the one I would want to make my choices!!! Psalms 118:24 says, “This is the day that the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.” I like that one much better. Make each day the best that you can make it. AFTER ALL, IT IS YOUR CHOICE. And, it may make someone else’s day be better too. Two for the price of one, now that is a deal! That might even be better than too much ice cream and hot fudge on your sundae!