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The Fleeting Beauty of Life

My heart is heavy for the victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. The senseless tragedy is one of those things that tears at your heart. The sheer cruelty of such an act is hard to even wrap my head around. So many lives taken in mere moments. So much pain and anguish in the hearts of the surviving family members of the victims. It's so tragic and terrible that it almost seems like it can't be real, but it is real. 

Earlier this week, before the tragedy in Colorado, I learned that a fellow cancer warrior (who I'd never met but whose blog post I read a couple weeks ago) had passed away. Her post was so stirring and saddening at the same time. I was struck by two things about it. The first was the cross-country train trip that she never got to take because of her cancer treatment schedules and, at the end, because of her failing health. The second was how fast she went from a self-sustaining adult to bedridden and completely dependent on caretakers -- under a month's time.

Both the shooting in Aurora and the death of my fellow warrior brought home to me how precious and fleeting life is.

You know, some people say when they receive a cancer diagnosis, they feel like they have lost control of their lives. Everything gets thrown on its head and what one used to regard as a "normal" life is never the same. 

But the truth is, there's no such thing as being "in control." None of us really have control of when we die, and this thought may be disturbing to some people. The fact that our lives can be extinguished by cancer or by a madman in a movie theater could send a shiver up our spines. But it's true. Nobody knows how long we have on this earth, and when it'll be over for each of us. Death could be on each of our doorsteps in this moment or the next, or the one after that.

Here's the thing, though. There's something we do have control over...something we always, always can control. The one thing in this world that we are 100% responsible for and of which we are 100% in charge: our approach to life. Our attitude. Our outlook. And the way we approach our lives is the thing that can make or break our quality of life. We all have our individual struggles, some more dire and life-threatening than others. But the way we face up to adversity -- and equally, the way we celebrate triumph -- is the stuff that can transform who we are and how we live. 

No matter how long you live, life is short. The time we spend in this world with our loved ones could never be enough for any of us. We all want more life. Trust me, I really really want more life. But I've found that focusing on quality of life -- living healthily and happily, going after one's dreams, loving the hell out of our loved ones, being grateful for what we have, and helping others in every way we can -- is precisely what has transformed my days from great to truly sublime. So while it would be nice to live for 100 years, I know that each day I live is so full and beautiful that if I weren't to hit that 100 year mark, I would still have lived a life that I was proud of and that I thoroughly enjoyed. And that's all I can ask for, really. That's all any of us can ask for.

Nobody knows when our time will be up. In the meantime, let's live our lives with all of our hearts.

Rest in Peace, Pat Steer.
Rest in Peace to the victims of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado.


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