"There is much to be said for 'fate and destiny.' I do believe that we shall each live until the day it is determined 'our time has arrived' and the grim reaper comes knocking ever so loudly at our door, and will not depart empty-handed.
Soon to be 76 years of age in a month's time, and despite having knocked at death's door half a dozen times since the age of 11 years, I have yet to enter that next life which, someday, awaits us all. If only it was left to the level of one's determination and positivism to grow old gracefully and to stay alive until way past their 100th birthday, I would gladly keep the Grim Reaper waiting for his next next corpse to bury; but alas it isn't. Let's hope that like Rip Van Winkle, the Grim Reaper tires of waiting for me and sleeps on for twenty or thirty more years before he even considers calling down my way again, although a large part of me knows such to be wishful thinking.
There is some good to be found in every bad apple and I am no exception. At least my terminal illness gives me substantive reason to be eternally grateful for having something that is denied to most people; knowing for certain that the incurable nature of my condition will result in an otherwise shortened lifespan, and thereby providing me with both incentive and opportunity to prepare my mind and body mentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually. In sheer practical terms, such advanced knowledge enables me to do those things that ideally need doing and to say those words that ideally require saying before being cut off in mid-sentence.
It truly amazes me how I can feel so well with terminal cancer inside me, slowly eating away at my very being each time it awakes from its current slumber. Even the pain in my hands and feet, that has never left me since I received my two nine-month periods of chemotherapy, is influenced by how active or still my mind and body are. My painful limbs only start to bother me by the absence of mental and physical activity. The activity of both mind and body prevents the conscious presence of my pain, by creating a barrier that blocks the pain-transmission pathway whenever I walk my body or work my mind. I never realised when I embarked on learning and refining my Relaxation and Imaginary Exercises at the early age of twelve years, just how important a feature of my life both regular exercise and Relaxation and meditation practices would become. These two aspects of my daily routine and lifestyle remain constant companions to my sense of well being.
As I lay in that hospital bed, having been told by the specialist that my spine damage would prevent me ever being able to walk again or experience feelings below my waist level, the only person with the power to help me, and the one I turned to was God. I made Him a promise that if I lived and walked again, I would devote my life to doing good works wherever possible. God must have agreed to this contract I made with him. He kept his side of the bargain struck and I have, since my twelfth year of age, tried to keep mine. Being human and probably frailer to the temptations of the flesh than most people has seen me frequently fall at the first hurdle, but despite my failings, I usually get to the finishing line, in the end, having called upon my Maker's forgiving nature more often than most penitents during the course of the race (or in my case, obstacle course).
In fact, since I was given a shorter lifespan five years ago when a terminal blood cancer was diagnosed, my life has paradoxically resulted in me being happier today than at any other time. I pray daily that others may know the happiness that I and Sheila daily experience and come to find and cherish the love of a good partner in their lives. I also pray that any ill-will that exists between someone and a family member disappears from the face of the earth. I truly believe that there is no nucleus as strong as 'family', and to see such a filial unit fractured without doing everything possible to heal it is to miss out on life's most rewarding of experiences. The bottom line is that 'family' is the heart and home of your character.
As John Lennon once remarked, 'There's nowhere to be that isn't where you're meant to be.' I also strongly believe in the power of self-statement; something akin to positive thought and profound prayer. Something deep inside me tells me that once I make a decision of both head and heart in collision with my innermost desire, that the universe will conspire to make it happen and that God above will shine down His love on me as it comes about.
When I was told that my illness was incurable, I had to accept that life called the tune. It was a tune that I hadn't asked for, but one that I had to learn to accept to dance with if I wanted to stay in step with life around me. This meant a speedy adaption to cold reality without losing any of my warmth of personality. I have always held the view, ever since I was old enough to construct more elaborate thought, that we should never fear becoming prisoners of fate, but never fall slaves to the negativism of a feeble mind.
Many years ago, once I stopped worrying about earning a quick buck and ceased being a fool to fortune, I instantly had a great burden removed from my shoulders. I stopped trying to live up to the Jones' and instead I started to identify with and befriend the socially outcast Smiths instead. For many years, I needed to practise giving away possessions that I had become too emotionally attached to. It was hard at first to part with things that one had grown to love having in their life, but I can truly tell you that the art of giving is a lot easier and more satisfying to take on board than you might realise, as it gives great pleasure. I admit that I will always like being surrounded by possessions that please and stimulate my senses, but at least I can enjoy their presence today without any longer needing to 'possess them'. I now know that while they may please me to have around, they do not hold the power to my happiness. Only Love holds that power!
Loving people instead of things is what makes me happy. Loving life enables me to live each remaining moment more meaningfully and makes most of my experiences more pleasurable. Loving my friends and family keeps me anchored to my roots and all that is good and supportive in my life. Loving my wife, Sheila, is the easiest thing I have ever done, yet the most rewarding. Loving my God provides me with the spiritual strength to carry my cross when my back is weakest. Finally, Loving myself is the essence of solving this enigmatic puzzle of life and death. It is the single most-necessary requirement in the maintenance of all my other loves; it is the wand to all miracles, magic and mystery of the universe.
I know that a lot of this change in me is to do with the advancement of age and that once we get older in years and farther away from good health, we naturally move closer to the Grim Reaper's visit. I also know that it is only through moving farther away from the Jones' and getting closer to the Smiths during our earth life, that mankind discovers the only path to salvation. This is the only direction that is capable of providing us with salvation, along with the only passport of moving us closer to God in heaven."
Love and peace Bill xxx