|I want my funeral to be a party. There were good times.|
For the last three months, I've had needles poked in me, blood work, tests, shifts in medication and then I had to wait for the results. It's a painful and confusing time to wait for a verdict on your mortality. Last week I got the news, my doctors are absolutely certain that I will die within the next 75 years.
There is a point to this literary bait and switch. I've had several friends who were diagnosed with very serious diseases. Initially, they were shocked and depressed, but then they decided to follow their doctor's treatment plan and fight the nemesis.
Almost all of them survived. A few slipped away, but the majority are back to their normal lives.
As great as modern medicine is, there are still parts of it that are based on speculation. Sometimes, what is ailing you is completely missed or misdiagnosed. That is why, if you get dire news, start getting second opinions. Different eyeballs see different things. Doctors are human, they can make mistakes. Medicine is a highly complex science and it covers an extremely broad spectrum - that is why there are so many specialists that deal with only one aspect of the human body.
So my diagnosis is really correct. I will die within the next 75 years. But you never know. I could be 130 years old and have a cake that looks like an Arizona forest fire. Take that Doc!
When we think of death, 99% of people think of the death of the body. But there is an even worse fate you can endure during your lifetime - the death of your mind. I'm not talking about Alzheimer's Disease, I'm talking about giving up, settling, failing to dream, losing ambition, never seeking another mountain to climb.
Age is a number, vitality is a state of mind. I used to have a joke about my father. I'd say, "My dad died 10 years ago, but his body keeps walking around."
There are a lot of people that live their lives in a state of mental death. They're usually poor, angry, depressed, bitter and not much fun to be around. Those are all choices.
I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, ADD/ADHD, and anxiety disorder. There were times I was so down because of my condition I was going to punch the next person that said, "It's your choice to be miserable." Those people don't understand mental illness. But there were choices I could make within the parameters of my illnesses.
As my symptoms increased, I lost everything. I went from being a relatively wealthy, successful guy to being one step away from being homeless. I'm still broke, living on food stamps and charity, but I had this silly little laptop. That was about all I retained from my piles of worldly possessions. I decided to do something with it. And I wasn't going to let circumstances stop me. I had to rebuild my life and I made a decision to do it on the Internet.
Right now, my office is the driver's seat of my 2005 black Toyata Tacoma pickup. All the windows are open. It's a nice night. A ball game is being played by a little league team about a hundred yards from me. Every now and then I hear the ting of an aluminum bat cracking a ball and the players, coaches and parents cheering. The pitchers must be pretty good, there haven't been many tings.
Norah Jones serenades me and my laptop is perched on a thick blanket to protect my thighs from burning up from the heat of the laptop. With my laptop propped on top of the blanket it provides an easier angle for me to type.
I'm not in a mahogany office with a view. I don't have a great cubicle. I don't have a fax machine or a copier. File cabinet? Ha! I'm stealing the WiFi signal from the public library because all of the other Wifi spots are closed in town. I've found a way to go on. I'll be here until dawn or later. Every time the CD changes, I'll run my truck for 10 minutes to recharge the battery.
If I can work on building a new life, filled with hope and ambition working in 12 cubic feet of space, you can do whatever you want, too.
My head is filled with stories of people who went on to greatness in their later years. They never gave up.
With the economy as bad as it is (BTW - the Recession never really ended), a lot of people are out of work. They have to find a new way to make it. I'm not suggesting that everyone and their brother get their laptops and jam the library parking lot at night with me, but you have to be creative and think outside of your box.
You start by thinking long and hard about what you absolutely love. Then you start working on that. Get good at it and then you look for ways to monetize it. I've met so many people that baked cookies for old age homes and now are flourishing caterers, or the guy that was creative with shearing shrubs and now he has a thriving landscape company. The list goes on and on.
Pursue your passions. Never let the world execute your dreams. Continue to dream. Nurture those thoughts and find them a way to blossom.
I've accepted the fact that I live in a friend's house that is so full of crap, it's really a storage facility. I've found ways around the fact that I don't have Internet access at home - the first time in 17 years. I don't care that I only have three pairs of jeans and six t-shirts. I've gotten over the shame of using a food stamp card at the grocery store and eating free meals for the poor and mentally disabled at churches. None of those things matter to me. I have my laptop and I can do what I love, write.
I'm also passionate about marketing and how the Internet works. I've become a wizard at blog search engine optimization (SEO). This blog went from a traffic rank of about 10 million in the US, to within the top 450,000 websites in the US in 90 days.
My rank has taken a big hit because my computer died and I was out of business for two weeks. I just got it back three days ago. I'll build it back. I know where I'm going and I have the passion and work ethic to get me there. Take that as a lesson for yourself. Never, ever give up.
You have a gift. Everyone does. God gives everyone a special, unique gift. You need to search your soul and find that gift - then put it into action.
You do and you won't get news like I did - my doctors tell me I'm going to die. Ha! It's been fun, and there is more to come. No good-bye - Hello to the future. I can't wait.
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