Saturday, December 17, 2011

Luck, In Perspective

I found out yesterday that someone I know recently passed away from breast cancer. She was young, like me. Obviously, this is the kind of news that causes me to do a lot of reflecting and dwelling. While it is hard to stop yourself from drawing comparisons and conclusions, the reality is I don't really know anything about her cancer - meaning, I should really stop trying to glean any wisdom from her story. That is so much easier to say than it is to do.

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't spent some time over the past 5 months thinking about luck. Yesterday and today as I've been thinking about this woman and my own relationship with cancer, I reflected on my luck. It's true that I don't feel particularly lucky to have gotten cancer but it also true that I try not to dwell on that too much. It certainly doesn't help me feel any better. Instead, I've been trying to think about all the ways that I have been lucky.

I could recount them here, but I won't. I tried and it quickly descended into pretty sappy stuff. The truth is, in many ways, a lot of the stuff that is great about my life (and there is a lot of stuff) has very little to do with the choices I've made and everything to do with chance and luck. I just happened to be born to amazing parents (who also created a pretty terrific sister). I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to meet most of my friends (who are great, by the way), and definitely to meet my husband. I've never known poverty or violence, I've had every opportunity to go to school, to travel, to play sports.

The reality is that of the 6 billion people on the planet, I'm luckier than probably 5.5 billion of them. Of course, I just made that statistic up but I'm fairly confident that it is close to accurate. Whenever I get too upset about the hand that I've been dealt I try to think about all of the amazing and positive things that have come both before and after my diagnosis. In fact, I used to think about my luck in a karmic sense. I mean, I've always been a worrier, so you can add some grains of salt to what I'm about to say but it always seemed to me that I had been too lucky. It is rare to find a person who has not dealt with adversity and honestly, my life leading up to my diagnosis had been pretty easy. So maybe this is just the universe's way of balancing the scales. Or teaching me the value in reflecting on just how lucky I have been. My rational self says that isn't the case at all but my irrational self has to wonder.

Either way, I still think the scales are tipped in my favour. Not that I mind. Regardless, there is not a more perfect time to reflect on all of the gifts you've been given in your life. So, in case I don't see you until after the holidays I wish you all a Merry Christmas and urge you to take a few seconds to think about all the luck you have this holiday season.

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