Five years later Dee had a recurrence of cancer and was failing. I mumbled something about dying of cancer and she retorted, “I’m not dying of cancer; I’m living with cancer.” She was saying that while cancer may be a fact of her life, she is in charge of living her life…until it’s over. She died a few weeks later…
Dee had a big impact on me. I reflected on times in my life when I had felt trapped. I realized that each time I allowed that feeling to persist, I was telling myself I was a victim and not in charge of my life. I was just making excuses for not taking charge and doing something.
Think about it: every time you blame something on a circumstance, your partner, your genes, your age or your addiction, you are making yourself a victim.
[SIZEWARP]The good news is that to lead a meaningful, fulfilling and mostly happy life, you need to take charge of living your life.[/SIZEWARP] Being more in charge of your living, however, is not an all-or-nothing thing. You begin with the choice to take charge of something, and then follow that choice with a myriad of further choices.
When young Bill was in high school he heard somewhere that the University computer Center was open for non-university people to use from 2 to 4 AM every night. He chose to set his alarm, sneak out of the house, go to learn by doing in the computer center every night, sneak back into his room and go to sleep. (His parents couldn’t understand why he was so tired in the daytime.) Bill Gates’s choice to take charge at that young age has affected virtually every home, office and school in North America and in much of the rest of the world. It has also led to the largest charitable donation in human history.
When Michael was a freshman at University in 1984, his parents made a surprise visit to his dorm room. “Where are your books?” his dad queried. Michael admitted he had chosen to spend his book money on computer parts to make computers for other students. “But don’t you see dad, there is no middleman? In 10 years I’ll be bigger than IBM.” His next choice was to leave University. In 10 years to the month Michael Dell’s sales surpassed those of IBM.
In the worst known case of child abduction and abuse, Jaycee Dugard was abducted at 11 and kept as a sex slave for 18 years. At 13 she gave birth to a daughter. She said in an interview that the birth of her daughter and her choice to be a good mother gave her life meaning and probably saved her life. She wrote, “I don’t think of myself as a victim. I survived.”
If Dee and Jaycee could choose to be in charge of their living, can’t we all? To what extent have you chosen to be in charge of your living?