“Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you [are] about to act now.” (Viktor Frankl)
As I sat in a comfortable armchair yesterday, tilted back, reposed with legs extended out, I looked down at the IV that administered the fluid chemo/immunotherapy drug into my system. For a moment, my thoughts trailed back to 2006, when Teresa and I lived in Germany. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror and getting ready for work one morning, and Teresa was getting ready beside me, as well. She glanced over at me and noticed a slightly dark brown colored discoloration on a pigmentation located on top of my left shoulder.
She stepped closer to get a better look at it. “You should make an appointment with a dermatologist to get that spot checked out” she said. I looked down at my left shoulder and just saw, in my opinion, a small brown spot…the size of a pencil eraser. “It’s not a big deal!” I retorted back.
Years later, that naïve utterance “It’s not a big deal” has eventually turned into a cancerous thorn, which regrettably will stay with me for the rest of my life. And, as it happens to be, that slightly brown discolored pigment…the size of a pencil eraser…eventually led to two cancerous tumors (one in my left chest side and the other in the upper left leg), with more than a foot of new scars on my body, along with a resection of muscle from my left leg, to boot.
However, as much as I should hold onto those naïve words as a regretful reminder; instead, “It’s not a big deal” is proving to be a transitory ‘aide-mémoire’ that compels me to make the best of every moment – favorable or unfavorable. With unfettered conviction, I personally hope my life can exemplify Viktor Frankl’s words, “Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you [are] about to act now.” In fact, I hope that I will never utter those words “It’s not a big deal” again for the rest of my life.
Each individual moment in our lives serves as an opportunity to act properly and fulfill a given inner potentiality, ergo a chance to externalize our natural God-given gifts and talents to benefit those around us. Take it from a cancer patient who may not have a “long life” over the horizon: if you have not found your natural bent…that it is to say your natural innate ability, then tenaciously search for it; and once you find it, grab hold and nurture it; then and only then you will intimately become aware of your own potentially in every given moment. Because, I believe that you and I were created for a special purpose in life. And if you don’t believe me, then maybe you will find conviction in the following words…
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone's task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it” (Vicktor Frankl).
“Each of you is unique, thank God, and the moment you know enough about your uniqueness, you will lose your fear of 'the system', because you will know it cannot stop you. Our so-called employment system in this country is, to be sure, a horror. But it is 'a paper tiger' once you or any intelligent, disciplined and highly motivated individual can forget the bonds we foist upon ourselves, and drive single-mindedly and unswervingly toward your own self-fulfillment and life goals” (John Crystal and Richard Bolles).
When (not “if”, but “when”) an opportunity invites you to arise and to act above the collective wisdom and conventional expected ways, this indeed will become your moment to redefine your current station in life. Grasp hold of it and face it with utter conviction, for this moment will never recur again. And if the words “It’s not a big deal” attempt to hinder your conviction, then embrace your moment with even stronger determination in order to find your potentiality. For the saddest moment in death is not the loss of one’s life, but the tragic misplacement of an opportunity to find one’s transcendent meaning in life.