HOUSTON, October 20, 2011 — Bad things happen to all people: break-ups, the death of those close to us, etc., but not all people deal with these sad times in the right ways. Death, divorce, and loss in general are things that we can’t control.
But what we can control is what we do in the aftermath, in that space we have afterwards.
Recently, my good friend Scott recommended that I watch “50/50.” The movie, starring Joseph Grodon-Levitt and Seth Rogen, was about a young man who contracts a rare form of cancer and details his trials and tribulations of his fight against cancer, and the friendship that helps him bear this cross.
This movie was particularly poignant for us.
Scott, not normally an emotional man, described the profound effect that the movie had on him. This is largely because earlier this year, another good friend of ours, let’s call him Roger, became severely ill and nearly died.
Roger became ill with an infection. The doctors were never able to pinpoint its precise cause, but whatever it was, he was given a fifty percent chance, at best, to make it through the first night he was in the hospital.
As you can tell, the movie really hit home for us since we had been through a situation where a close friend might die.
I was not able to visit Roger because of the distance, but Scott did. He described going into the critical care unit and having to decide what to say to Roger that was both positive, given the circumstances, but also say goodbye, as this might be the last time he ever could say anything to him. All of which reminds me of the song “The Living Years” by Mike and the Mechanics.
The good news is that Roger is the most stubborn person on the face of the planet and was in good physical shape prior to his illness, so he was able to pull through it after months in critical care.
But this brings up a very important life lesson: How to handle and perceive the adverse situations we inevitably face in life.
In the end, Scott became much closer to Roger through this ordeal. I am certain he would have preferred to do so through a different process, but his friendship with Roger became a powerful bond of brotherhood.
funny how we learn to appreciate something when we are on the verge of losing it; how we often take people and what they really mean to us for granted. How would Scott have felt if Roger had passed and he never shared his emotions with him?
The genesis of my friendship with Scott was also through tragedy. We started out as casual acquaintances through a mutual friend, but with our friend’s untimely passing, we became as close as brothers. We were shaken to the core and devastated by that sudden tragedy.
Suicide does that to people, but it bonds the survivors closer together.
Scott and I ultimately became business partners and share great experiences today because of this. He was a groomsman in my wedding and the only friend, aside from my dad, to fly out here when I separated.
Sad moments in life are unavoidable and are actually necessary to fully appreciate the good and happy times. It is impossible to be happy 100% of the time because of circumstances we cannot control, although they can lead us to greater happiness if we allow ourselves to be happy.
Albert Camus wrote, “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
If we could achieve 100% happiness with no negativity, which is impossible, we actually would be missing out because we would have no contrasting events to allow us the full appreciation of happiness. There is no success without failure. There is no light without darkness. There is no love without indifference.
I currently have found myself in a new relationship and it’s more than I could ever hope for. She means the world to me and I will never take her unconditional love for granted. Without my past heartaches and heartbreaks I would not be able to love as much as I can, appreciate what I have, receive love on this level and embrace it like I do.
If there is anything to take home from this powerful movie, it is this: go home and tell everyone close to you that you care about them. In a time of political strife and anger brimming all around us, we often don’t take the time to slow down and do this.
Make phone calls, send online messages and emails. Men, put your male pride aside and share genuine words of endearment and love, and in return receive them back with no reservations of feeling “weird.”
You never know when your end, or theirs, will come, but we do know that it will. Do not fear this, but use this knowledge to embrace life fully. Do not wait until it’s too late to say what needs to be said; speak it now, speak it loud, and never forget what others have done for you or mean to you.
Don’t wait for tomorrow, as it may not be our gift to have. Stop everything and tell them now.
I’m doing that myself.
Perhaps it was said best in “The Living Years”:
“I wasn’t there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say
I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him
In the living years.”
Carter Lee is the author of, When Jonathan Cried for Me, a professional speaker, and President of Innovative Social Dynamics LLC., and is a professional speaker. To learn more about his book click here. For a personal appearance or speaking engagement click here.
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