Quote of the Week 18: Happiness is not a limited resource

This weekend saw the TV premiere of ‘The C Word’ (the film adaptation of Lisa Lynch’s book of the same name about her battle with breast cancer). Yesterday would have been Zach Sobiech‘s 20th birthday. This weekend Carrie Bickmore used her Gold Logie Acceptance Speech to call on Australian TV personalities to wear #BeaniesForBrainCancer, in honour of her late husband who died of the disease when their son was just 3 years old, to raise awareness for the need for more funding. Today I woke up to see this post on my reader showing the launch of the Truth365 PSA on Broadway that Kylie Myers featured in. And it’s also the one year anniversary of Christopher Aiff’s death.

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Lisa Lynch called her cancer diagnosis ‘The Bullshit’, and there sure is a lot of shitty stuff going on in the world. I really don’t care if you’re offended by that language, because I feel like ‘rubbish’ doesn’t cut it when it comes to stuff like this. I have friends that are going through some really crummy, shitty things involving death and dying. And I wish that they didn’t have to go through it.

It’s not that Chris is saying that cancer is fun. It’s that even in all the crummy shittiness there is still joy to be found somewhere. And joy and happiness is not something that only a certain number of people can have for a limited amount of time.

It’s unlimited.

When a mother gives birth to another child, it’s not that she has to halve the love for her first to give the other half to the second. There’s simply more love that comes.

It’s not a limited resource.

Chris actually explains it much better than I ever could. So I will let him share his wisdom.

“The decision to be positive is not one that disregards or belittles the sadness that exists, it is rather a conscious choice to focus on the good, and to cultivate happiness and genuine happiness. Happiness is not a limited resource. And when we devote our energy and time to trivial matters and choose to stress over things that ultimately are insignificant, from that point on we perpetuate our own sadness and we lose sight of the things that really make us happy and rationalise our way out of doing amazing things.”

-Christopher Aiff, 2012, My Last Days

It is for good reason that Chris’ sister and many of his friends got that inked permanently on their skin so they’d always remember his message.

Happiness is not a limited resource. And let us choose to focus our energy on cultivating it.

Although I’d quite like us to find a cure for cancer and a cure for Cystic Fibrosis too (that would make a lot of people very happy).

Quote of The Week 1: How life is like a storytale…

Seneca

By Hogmanay, I had heard of several people who had died young or unexpectedly during the Christmas/New Year period. This Christmas Eve, sad that I had not managed to take part in many of the traditions that I have long held fondly, I spent some time remembering Eva Markvoort. Eva was a woman who was born the same week and year as me and had Cystic Fibrosis. She was arty, creative, kind, outgoing, dramatic and had a strong sense of social justice. She inspired people all around the world, including me, with her blog, YouTube videos and her efforts to raise money and awareness for CF and organ donation. Eva loved Christmas, and one of the things she did every year was rope friends and family into a ‘Sing for CF’ where they would sing Christmas Carols to raise money for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. On her final Christmas when she was suffering with chronic rejection of her donated lungs, she was unable to go out to do it, so everyone gathered in Eva’s living room turned bedroom and did a live webstream singing Christmas songs the week leading up to Christmas. And I sat on my laptop singing along with them in my bedroom in Scotland (despite the time difference!)

I feel like as each year of my life comes to an end (i’ve had over 30 of them now), I am reminded by seemingly senseless tragedies that we just never know what is around the corner. It reminds me of the conversation between a mother and her dying son being recounted in Fly A Little HigherZach was struggling to see the point of school as teachers were asking them to write essays for college and friends were full of talk about plans after high school – all things that he was likely never going to be participating in. Laura prayed to God to give her the words to respond to her son’s struggle.

“How many kids are in your class?” [Laura] asked.

“I don’t know, maybe around seven hundred,” he replied.

“Zach, the likelihood of one of them dying within the next few years is pretty good… There is a kid in your class who is going to die soon but just doesn’t know it. You know you’re going to die, and you have a pretty good idea of when. You have the advantage of preparing your soul. You get it. That other kid – he thinks he’s just preparing for college. So what’s really going on here isn’t that your friends are moving on and leaving you behind; it’s the opposite. You’ve moved on and have left them behind.”

-Fly A Little Higher by Laura Sobiech (page 3)

Of course, the reason we know the names of Zach Sobiech, Eva Markvoort, Emily Thackray, Stephen Sutton and many others is because though their lives may have been short in terms of calendar years, they were high in quantity of achievement. They have left us behind, and for those of us left behind (especially for those close to them) the loss is painful and the grief is hard to bear. But they lived life to the full – even when it wasn’t easy. There’s a message that Zach shared to the world…. “I want people to know that you don’t have to find out you are dying to start living“.

Truth is, we are all dying. Being born and dying are the two things of the human experience every single one of us shares. We don’t know when it’s going to happen, but it will happen one day. We can sit and wait…or we can make choices to make the best out of the time, resources and abilities we are given.

We might have a long tale to tell. It might be unexpectedly short.

But the point is – it’s not the length, but how good it is, that matters.