I heard these words as I watched a show on TV yesterday. It stopped me and made me think…in fact, I had to pause the show for a minute, rewind it, and write these words down. I have always believed that our lives are made up of a series of choices…choices we make everyday…some are big and some are small but in the end I believe that every single choice we make…makes a difference and changes our lives...for the better or for the worse.
The “live or die” part of this quote seems the most extreme…the most out of our control…and in the literal sense, maybe it is…but I don’t think most of us realize how many times throughout our lives we make that choice. For some people…it is not an easy choice. I have known people…people that I love…that wanted to take their own life…and tried…more than once…but did not die. The doctors were baffled each time, because this person should have died…more than once. I’ve always held onto the belief that it was because there is a part of this person’s heart that DOES want to live…that’s the only way I can bear the pain that I feel when this happens.
Even for those of us that never consider taking our own lives…every day we have to make the choice to live. I believe that you can be alive and not live. I know this because I’ve done that. When I was overweight and depressed…I was just existing. People tease me because I have so many pictures of myself with friends and family these days. It seems narcissistic…and the irony is that I really hate having my picture taken…but there is a reason I take so many pictures now.
There are vacations and YEARS of my children’s lives where I am missing from all of the pictures. The few pictures that we have are just painful reminders of a very sad time in my life…a time I would like to forget…but also a time that is important to remember. You see, I could go see doctors…or be given anything I wanted…or be surrounded by people that loved me…or take medication…but NONE of that would help me live. I had to make the decision each and every day to get out of the bed I wanted to hide in and put one foot in front of the other. I had to choose to continue to be a good Mom. I had to choose not to cry every time I wanted to. I had to choose to rebuild myself, because NO ONE could do it for me.
The choices I made along the way and the journey that I took as I set out to “fix” myself, made me a different person…the person I am today. I made all the choices…and I did all the hard work…but there were people that unknowingly helped me along the way too. I learned that failing does not make me a failure. It means I get to keep trying until I get it right. I learned to not take myself so seriously…to laugh at myself. I learned that things don’t make people happy…and neither do people…real happiness comes from within. I learned to stop saying “I can’t.” and to do things that are hard for me…things that don’t come naturally. I learned that pain is always temporary and that working through it, is much easier than fighting it. I learned that a strong, healthy body helps make a strong, healthy mind, and I learned that the unlikeliest of people can become friends and touch each other’s lives in ways that the other may never know.
As hard as that time was for me and my family…and as much as I’d like to say I wish it never happened…I’m glad that it did because I learned how to make that choice. I learned to say “I want to live.” and I am so much better because of it.
The fact is…life is hard…and living is not always an easy choice to make. Things happen…natural disasters occur…people we love die or go away…we get hurt physically and emotionally…we face trials that can bring us to our knees. Sometimes we don’t know how to make things better because sometimes we can’t make things better…but no matter what we lose….we never lose our ability to choose how we will react…what we will do when faced with these choices…”yes or no…in or out…up or down…love or hate…to be a hero or to be a coward…to fight or give in…to live or die”.