Friday, October 5, 2012

Life rarely turns out as planned or expected, but it is what you make of it.

When you are young, you think nothing is impossible, you are filled with hope and dreams, fueled with drive and ambition.  College may have just been completed or may even be an adventure yet to conqueror.  Now, I am not saying dreams, goals, hopes or ambitions are bad.  What I want to prepare you for is the inevitability that is called life.  See, when we are young and relatively inexperienced with the challenges and roadblocks that life throws in our path as we embark on our journey, we tend to make plans and goals for the future that we just never get too.

The reason for this is because of many different factors.  Some of which include stumbling blocks life throws us, and unexpected complications in work, school and maturing over time.  As we get older and mature we don't always re-evaluate our priorities or goals that we have made in our younger years. When we fail to do that we tend to wake up one morning and wonder why we aren't exactly where we thought we would be and are disappointed in the progress we have made.  At times like this we start to second guess ourselves and the choices we have made as we moved forward on life's road.

Recently, I sat down and had a reckoning with myself.  I wondered how I had gotten to the place I found myself at.  See I had planned on a whole different life from the one I have. You will be surprised at what I had found out.  It wasn't necessarily because my feet weren't on the right path, nor haven't I made the right decisions.  There were other factors, that I couldn't have ever foreseen in my life's plans or goals.  Everybody has different ideas of where they are going to be and what they want to do when they are in high school.  Those thoughts might might change a little bit while they are going to college. But it seems that later in life each and everyone of us looks back at our lives and we wonder why we haven't made it to where we thought we would be.

As I was saying a bit earlier this year I decided to look back at y life and I was surprised at where I was at and honestly I found myself disappointed with the progress I had made.  Keep in mind I was looking at current life versus expected ideals, and never took into account the journey it took me to get here.  Once I factored in that I was still not happy at all with my progress, but satisfied with my achievements.  See I looked at where I was currently at that exact moment in time, and not the whole journey.  Which I will try to explain more about a little bit later.  As I looked back at myself and on my life I only took into account at where I was at, at the present moment. Who would have thought that at 44 years of age I would be at home with my parents, with no place of my own, and no car and living on social security?  When you look at it from that perspective it doesn't sound good at all and is rather depressing if you ask me.  Which as you can imagine did cause me a few days of grief.  However, I began to realize that as with all things in my life it is how we look at them.  The angle at which they are viewed and the perspective they are viewed from, that makes all the difference.

Nobody likes to look back at upon their life and wonder what they have done wrong and they start contemplating the what if's, and honestly you can't do that because you will be drowning yourself in depression, doubt and guilt.  If you are anything like me, you looked back and were surprised with where you find your found yourself.  See my problem was I didn't take into account where I had been and what I had accomplished.  I was just looking at where I was at now.  Forget taking into consideration everything I went through and what I had literally lived through. I never stopped to look at the health issues, relationship issues, and all the other factors that had gone into how I had gotten here.  I focused solely on the end result and let me tell you I wasn't happy!  Then it dawned on me to consider the journey I had been on and the adventure of life, the circumstances that had brought me to this place, and that is when I realized that the path I was on had brought me to the exact place at the exact moment I needed to be there.

There is no mistaking that I needed to be at my parents home when I got here. I wasn't even here a week and I ended up in the hospital.  Two weeks later I had to have emergency surgery and before I knew it I have been in and out of the hospital a lot over the past year.  In order to get the care and attention I needed I landed exactly when I could get it and I am thankful I made the decision to come back here to my parents. In retrospect when I look back at the journey I have made. I am proud of what I accomplished, the friends and acquaintances I have made, the lessons I have learned.  More than that I have come full circle in my life.  I came back to where I have started.  I am smarter, more educated, more mature and in a far greater position than I had been in when I had left.

Sometimes I ask myself, "Would you do anything differently if you had to do it all over again?"  The long and the short of it is this, if I changed anything would I still know what I know now?  Would I have met the same people?  Would I have had the same experiences?  No! I wouldn't have is the answer to all of those questions.  So, No I wouldn't change a thing.  The one thing I value most in my life are my friends and the friendships I have made.  If I were to loose even one of them I wouldn't be happy.  Another thing I look back and I see the accomplishments I have made.  I am the first in my family to get my Bachelors and Masters degree. I served my country and received a Navy Achievement Medal for my time in service.  I am a plank owner of the U.S.S. Wisconsin (BB-64).  I have helped hundreds of people in my life without wanting anything in return and I have completed everything I have ever wanted to do with my life. Do I regrets? Yes, I do, but not the kind you would think of.  There are some people who were in my life that I gave up on when I shouldn't have. Plus, there were my dark years. The years in which I found myself immersed in the world of drugs, sex and self-destructive behavior.  This is also the period where my actions were not always friendly, more on the destructive side.  These are my only regrets.

Here I am on the other side of that period and I look back in awe and wonder at the friends and relationships that were formed during that time of my life and I am amazed at how many of them have survived and are still with me today.  I am thankful for their support and friendship.  They have made everything I went through worthwhile!  If I look further back at my life I can be proud of the time I worked for the State of Georgia.  The skills I learned and the friendships that still survive today as well.  It is inspiring to know that three different Governors depended on me, asked my opinions and listened to my advice.  How even today five and a half years later my name is still well known.  Who knows had my health held up I might even still be working there today.  I was happy with that job and that life.  What came after was the hard part.

But, even after tell you all of this, I don't believe I would change anything that I have gone through nor any of the people I shared those experiences with.  Because it is through all of this and all of them that I have become the person that I am today.  See, I realized this year that I am the culmination of every choice and decision I have made.  I am the result of every experience and relationship I have had.  I have grown, adapted, changed and matured into a much different person. If I wouldn't have gone through those things, suffered the setbacks and health issues I wouldn't have made it to the point in my life where I am at.  Nor would I have the background and the experience that I live and share with you.  You may ask about the illnesses that I have faced in my life and without rehashing my whole story. I will just tell you this June marks the 20 year that I have been fighting cancer and leukemia.  In 2006 I was diagnosed with HIV and in 2012 I was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and Kidney/Renal disease.  Life has not been easy for me and yet through it all I try to remain positive and strong.

These illnesses were a necessary part of my development and have given me so much more insight into the human condition and life itself.  It has brought me that much closer to the Divine and God Himself.  It has taught me the meaning of faith and how to look past the frailties of life and look at the soul of a person.  It has prompted me to put my feet on the path of the philosophers journey and experience life from all aspects and points of reference.  So, I don't think I would even change those experiences if I had the opportunity. But, along with saying that I wouldn't wish any of these things on another person not even an enemy, which I am glad to say I don't have many of.  But lest I mislead you, I cannot say that I am altogether happy with the outcome of those illnesses.  I have the bag to contend with and the fears and phobias that go with that. Then there are the scars . The damage to my colon and the limited sexual things that I am now limited too.  Let me try to explain further about these things.  You can find more on them in the blog entry entitled "Inner Demon finally reveal....is there still hope..?"   The life of mine has not been a bed of roses. Cancer has eaten me up and yet, I am still here.  Since 2005 I have had to have 12 bowel resections, which means that I have lost several feet of large intestines. I have had a colostomy, ileostomy, another colostomy, and other ileostomy, and then finally they added a colostomy with the previous ileostomy, so currently today there are 2 stomas sticking out of my abdomen.  Then over the years I suffered from small bowel obstructions and had to have 8 sections of my small intestines removed, yet here I am!  Now add in renal and kidney failure with Hepatitis C and you are at where I am today.  I have the scars both physically and emotionally to prove it.  The scar tissue and adhesion's are so bad that on June 13, 2012 they attempted to reverse the colostomy that was put in on March the 5th and I died on the table 3 times before they called it quits, I had to have 5 blood transfusions and spent 19 days in intensive care.  I was told that they could never operate on me again or I would die. So at this point I have no further options when and if the cancer or radiation disease strikes again.  That was the other thing I forgot to mention in 2005 I found out that I was also suffering from long term radiation disease from the treatments that were used to save my life back in 92.

Now, most people would be depressed and buried under the weight of all of this, but I find it a challenge, and it has made me stronger, given me a broader outlook on life. It has also made me look at the world from a different perspective.  I see the positive, beauty and good in the world.  This I think has given me the energy that I need to continue to fight and live each day to the fullest.  What I want you to take away from this entry is this.  no matter what your plan and how hard you strive to get there to that ideal place in life. The world is going to throw you curve balls and obstacles in your way. Each and every one of us looks back on our lives and we are never happy with where we are at.  What I want you to do is look at the path and your journey that you have taken to get to where you are at.  Change your perspective so to speak and understand that it the journey and your path that is important, and you have arrived at exactly the right place at the right time where you need to be.  That by changing the way you view things you are going to see that how you got to your place is far more important, then the actual place itself.  It is the journey that makes everything worthwhile.  Cultivate the friendships and relationships you have made along the way. Take time to smell the roses, understand that life is short and that each and every moment that we have on the earth is as precious and important as anything else we could ever learn.  Remember life is not always what we want it to be but it is exactly what we make of it.  Appreciate the fine things in life, enjoy the culture the music, the exotic sounds and colors. Explore and learn all you can about everything around you.  Take the inner journey and find the answers to the questions that have been plaguing you.  As your perception changes, your outlook on things is going to change, and you are going to notice subtler things, and you will understand more of what life is actually all about.

Remember if things don't work out don't get frustrated, angry or upset.  Keep in mind that you are going to find that you are actually precisely when you need to be, that is just the way life works.  Think about it and you will see that I am right!

As always my hopes and dreams are with you,

Uncle B