My ass definitely hurts. It hurts badly and it hurts often.
Because… you know… cancer.
But I suspect some of you suffer from ass pain as well, but your pain is (hopefully) completely unrelated to cancer. Some of you have ass pain because you’re spending too much time sitting on it and not enough time turning your dreams into reality.
Of course, I’m being facetious here. I don’t know if you’re sitting on your asses or not, but I figured it would be a good way to lead into my overall point…
I’ve said it dozens of times, but I’ll say it again (and again and again):
I’m not going to die from this.
That said, a diagnosis like this does make me think about mortality. It makes me think about the impact I’m leaving on this world and whether or not that impact is good or bad. It makes me think about the things I’ve done and the things I’ve wanted to do but haven’t.
And that last bit is where the shit gets deep.
It’s really all about regret. This is something those closest to me have heard me talk about for years, but I think it’s worth talking about here because – like pretty much everything – my diagnosis has made these thoughts much more… real.
You see, there are two kinds of regret:
There’s regret for what you did…
And there’s regret for what you didn’t do.
For most things, the first type of regret is easy to overcome. If you do something you regret, just do your best to make it right, forgive yourself, then move on. Done.
But the second type… regret for what you didn‘t do…
That kind of regret is a full-on bitch. You can’t leave that kind of regret behind. It follows you throughout your life.
Then, one day, while you’re playing Star Trek Online, Death will show up and say, “Hey, man. I’m just here to remind you that I exist. I’m gonna’ hang out for a while.”
“No, Death,” you’ll say. “I don’t need to be reminded of you. Go away and let me play my game.”
Then Death will ask you what you’re playing and you’ll say, “Star Trek Online,” with a sigh.
“Cool,” Death will say. “How about I get on the other computer and we can play together. You know, since I’m hanging out here anyway.”
That’ll piss you off. “No, Death!” you’ll say. “I like playing solo.”
At that point, Death will get all smug and say, “You know, Star Trek Online is a mulitplayer online roleplaying game. It’s designed to play with other people.”
“I do fine playing solo,” you’ll argue.
“But you’re missing out on half the game,” Death will insist.
“Go away!” you’ll yell. “Damn. I don’t want you here. I don’t like you, Death. Nobody likes you.”
Death will act all hurt and say, “That’s harsh, dude. And it’s not true. Emo teenagers love me.They constantly write poems about me. And you should see the crap they doodle on their notebooks.”
“Then go bother them,” you’ll snap.
“I can’t stand emo teenagers,” Death will say.
You’ll finally look up from your game and say, “Look. Go away. There’s a 97 year old woman who lives in this very neighborhood. Go hang out with her!”
“Believe it or not,” Death will say, “she’s gonna’ be around for another 8 years.”
“Then go for a walk!” you’ll yell. “I don’t give a damn where you go. I just do not want you here!”
In a huff, Death will say, “Fine.” He’ll turn and walk toward the door, then he’ll stop and say, “Oh, by the way, you have cancer.” Then, as he leaves, he’ll mumble, “Dick.”
You’ll be glad he finally left, but his parting words will haunt you. Not the “Dick” part… the “you have cancer” part.
And you’ll find yourself thinking about your life.
That’s when you’ll start to regret things.
Mostly, you’ll regret the things you wanted to do, but didn’t.
You’ll think about the classmate in the 10th grade you wanted to ask out, but never got up the nerve.
You’ll think about how you chose the safe job because too many people said your dream career was unrealistic.
You’ll think about every time you decided against doing something because the statistical odds suggested you would fail.
You’ll think about every time your heart wanted to turn right, but your fear motivated you to turn left.
Yeah. Like I said, that second kind of regret is a total bitch.
It will taunt you until the day you die.
The worst four words to start any sentence is “I wish I had…”
So my advice to you…
Never set yourself up to use those words.
I know it sounds like a total cliche, but chase your dreams. If you have a dream career, figure out how to make it happen. If you love someone, make damn sure they know it. If you’ve always wanted to see the pyramids in Egypt, start figuring out how you can make it happen. If you’ve always dreamed of being a contestant on The Price is Right, figure out how to get your ass in that audience. Don’t let the “realist” in you talk you out of it, because here’s a little-known secret… that “realist” usually isn’t a realist at all. He’s a coward, hiding behind odds and statistics.
You get the point. It’s an old point, and it’s one that I’m sure you’ve heard over and over.
I do, however, think I’m now qualified to give this advice, for two reasons.
1. I chased my dream, and I can attest to the joy it brought me.
2. While I’m not dying (because I will beat this), I have been forced to face death in a very real way, which has given me perspective on this whole “chase your dreams” thing.
If you want to ignore my advice because you think I’m being a self-important jackass, I totally understand.
But please understand… I’m not giving this advice because I want to feel important.
I’m giving it because I want you to get the absolute most out of your life… and cowering away from your dreams won’t make that happen.
Even if you live to a ripe old age, the human lifespan is disturbingly short.
Every second is precious.
Soak up each and every one.
Be happy, folks. You deserve it.