I'm the kind of person who can need a resounding wake up call every once in a while to remember what really matters in life. Depending on how deeply entrenched I am in fear or worry, it can take either a large anvil dropped on my head or something small, like the smell of fresh-cut grass, to get my attention. And when it does, I remember to feel grateful, to be present in the moment, and to enjoy life, rather then waste my time wrapped up in the wrong attitude.
For example, I was at dinner last night with a group of my husband's relatives. Even though I was with great people, I was feeling a little antsy and not in the mood to be trapped at a restaurant. The chair felt uncomfortable, the crowd was too loud, and the waiter was taking too long to bring me something to drink. In other words, I was in a grumpy mood and my attitude sucked.
I was seated across from a woman I had never met before. Melissa is a neighbor of my husband's cousin. She is a perky, adorable blonde, with a sassy personality. It was obvious she doesn't suffer fools gladly. She effortlessly struck up a conversation with me, and within a matter of minutes, I became fascinated by her. Immediately, my mood picked up. She was animated, uncensored, and completely engaging, and because of her, I felt increasingly delighted and happy as the night continued. To be honest, it wasn't the variety of topics we covered that made her so fun and interesting; it was her unbridled ability to speak her mind. She was obviously an extrovert: well versed in the art of conversation, and carrying piles of self-esteem. I was a full-fledged fan by the end of the meal.
After dinner, we went back to the house where we are staying, and I said to one of the cousins, "Wow, that Melissa! What a hoot! She is so funny and bold. I'm glad I got to meet her."
The cousin responded, "I know. Melissa is amazing. I'm sure she didn't mention it, but she has been battling serious cancer at the young age of 42."
My heart sank. I couldn't believe it. Not for one moment of our exchange did she show any sign of fear, bitterness, self-pity, or self-obsession. Quite the contrary. She devoured every second with humor, glee, full self-expression, and the unflinching ability to connect. What, I asked myself, was I waiting for? I was reminded, once again, that life is short, and while I may not have control over what is going to happen in my life, I do have control over the attitude I decide to take in facing it. For today, I choose happiness.
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