Embracing the Uncertainty of Life
Updated: May 16, 2019
One of the most important lessons I learned from having cancer this past year is that life is uncertain. We do many things to give us a sense of control, or an indication that we are in the driver's seat – sign a one-year lease on a home, commit to a relationship or execute a contract with a job. That way, we know what we will be doing for the next year or whatever timeframe we settle on in our mind. We can breathe easier.
But, in reality, nothing is certain. Everything can change in the blink of an eye and commitments can end; often at someone or something else's doing. It feels unsettling to think of, doesn't it? That is how I felt when I was blindsided with a cancer diagnosis.
In my case, that uneasiness eventually gave way to a sense of peace. I realized that over the years, I had imposed timeframes on things so that I felt like I knew what I would be doing for x amount of days, months or years: I'll stay in this apartment one more year. I'll adopt this dog and have him for10 years. I felt that if I did not have those "plans" in my head, pieces of my life would be in chaos. I believe this is a normal human reaction; we want to think in a linear path. If I do x, y will be the result.
Then one day, you realize life does not work like that. We may be forced to begin to accept this when something like cancer or another trauma or tragedy strikes us and those we love. My first step at embracing the uncertainty of life was to think of the things I could control. I could control how I reacted to things and if I chose to have a positive attitude. I could choose how much I fought back when cancer left me feeling drained physically or emotionally. I could choose to live life and to embrace it.
I came to realize that the beauty of life is that it is uncertain. We don't truly know what will happen in any given moment. But, we can choose to be present and live life fully.
If we knew what was going to happen each day of our lives, things would be pretty boring. The beauty of life is that it changes and so do we, if we chose to do so. We can bend and adapt so that we evolve. There is beauty in that. When we begin to embrace the fact that life is uncertain, it leaves us open to possibilities. We begin to say, "What if?," and we don't fear that 'what if;' we look at it with wonder and hope. In my case, I began to hope for a future in which I was healthy and strong once again, where I did not have to worry so much about what laid right in front of me.