I was filling out one of those questionnaires the other day, you know, the ones that ask you about your interests: bicycling, biking, dancing, hiking, martial arts, running, tennis . . .
Sometimes I don’t know how to answer those questions. For most of my life I have been active and very energetic. Now, I have these special circumstances that affect my activity. Am I silly if I note my choices are activities I cannot perform? Am I phony if I list choices that I used to do?
I hate that phrase: I used to. It reminds me of excuses we cite for avoiding something we want to do or the way we used to because of a perception that we are being held back by some obstacle. Most of the time, obstacles are not really the issue; most of the time, it’s fear–fear of the unknown, fear of failure–that stops us from pursuing a goal or living a dream.
Throughout my life I have been a risk taker and have enjoyed challenging fear. I don’t mean a thrill-seeking, critter crunching survivalist but a risk calculator who weighed my options and then opted for the riskier, rather than the more comfortable, choice. One of my favorite philosophers is Ralph Waldo Emerson, and one quote from him, among many, that I love is, “Always do what you are afraid to do.” It is emblazoned in my mind.
Cancer can paralyze us with fear and turn us into one of those people we all know who complains about not being able to do things because of this or that and never ventures out of a limited circle of comfort. I do not wish to live my life that way. I want to continue making choices that make my life fun, exciting and meaningful. While I may unable to do some activities at the same insane level that I used to, I can still push my limits and achieve more than I, or others, expect. Allowing cancer to dictate who and what I am and what I will do with my life is not an option. Inviting the fear from this dreaded disease to motivate me past the cancer and its limitations is my only choice.
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