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A while back someone asked me to write about what makes me tick. Intrigued, I pondered how I might answer the question and became completely and totally stumped. I mean, how can one possibly figure out what makes them tick without examining their life from every perspective and without being able to review every memory to ascertain the pivotal moments that molded and shaped their personality, perspective and outlook on life?
Quite the impossible task I concluded.
Most recently, I was asked to write about gratitude. An easier subject, for sure, but one that has many facets. I became overwhelmed by all the possibilities: should I write about my family and friends, the medical personnel who have helped me over the decades, my teachers and professors at school and university, my co-workers and bosses? My list could be endless if I considered all the people who have ever touched my life in a positive way!
At that moment, I suddenly realized that it was the people in my life that have made me into the person I am today. What makes me tick is a result of all the experiences and all the lessons I have learned from all the people in my life. And when I say all, I mean all. Not just the ones who interacted with me and created fond memories; all the people I have interacted with, including the frustrating, mean, belligerent, scary, negative, manipulative, soul-crushing and destructive ones.
I need to be grateful for all the people who have touched my life.
So why be grateful for those people I don't like and don't care to be around?
The more I think about those people and how they threw roadblocks across my path, made me cry, made me angry, told me I couldn't or wouldn't or shouldn't, the more I realized that I learned to be persistent, defiant, creative, self-confident, courageous, ingenious and rebellious because of their actions. And let's be honest. For this life I am living, where I have been diagnosed with cancer and a lot of chronic illnesses, where things haven't always gone the way I have planned and where I have faced more than my fair share of challenges, these are the lessons I needed to prepare me to live my life. All these people taught me that I was stronger, more resilient and more capable than I ever imagined.
More elegantly put, in this quote from the movie Mulan, "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all."
It has taken me decades to appreciate just how rare and beautiful I am between all my illnesses and struggles. It has also taken decades for me to see and appreciate how deep and how wide my inner strength, courage and passion for life are. While I hold out hope that life's challenges will become fewer as I get older, I nevertheless am more confident than ever that I can survive and thrive despite whatever life throws in my direction.
I have all the people who have touched my life to thank for this. I am very grateful and very fortunate indeed. I truly do have so many blessings to count and be thankful for this and every Thanksgiving.