“Go enjoy your life cause there are people that are fighting like hell for it.”
Those were a few words from one of Claire Wineland’s last videos last year. She had cystic fibrosis (CF), a life-threatening disorder that causes mucus to block airways in the lungs.
Claire was brave, positive, and extraordinary. She knew she was dying and openly talked about it but still radiated wisdom and sunshine. She put herself out into the world to inspire other people struggling with terminal diseases, but she ended up inspiring hundreds of thousands of people with her inspiring speeches and videos.
Unfortunately, Claire passed away after a lung transplant on September 2, 2018. The life expectancy for CF is thirty-seven years, but Claire didn’t it make it past twenty-one.
I didn’t know Claire, but I was rooting for her. She just had to live for as long as most of us.
So, I couldn’t help the tears, and the sobs, that had escaped me when I logged into Twitter one day and saw that Claire Wineland had passed away.
But no matter how short her life-span, Claire had, and continues to have, an incredible impact on the world.
We always find something to stress about
The biggest lesson she taught me was to stop taking life for granted and enjoy it fully and deeply.
She reminds me to live and love and laugh. To have fun and care and to feel everything. To do the things I enjoy and to stop taking myself so seriously. To enjoy the life I don’t have to worry about fighting for, the way people with terminal diseases do.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the drama of our lives. Something always stresses us out. People. Money. School. Work. Technology.
We regret the past and worry about the future. We hesitate to take risks because we’re afraid of failing. We don’t stand up for what we believe in or for ourselves because we’re embarrassed.
We even worry about other people’s drama. We get angry when the WiFi stops working for five minutes and frustrated when success happens to others but not to us, as if that frustration will give us what we want.
I understand that there are a lot of things to be angry about. When you open social media, read the news, or turn on the television, there is nothing but negativity.
Murder. Bans. Assaults. Abuse. Attacks. That’s just the worst of it. This doesn’t include family or friend drama, hate comments, tweets and posts with opposing views, and more.
We can only feel angry for so long
We should be angry sometimes. Anger leads to protests and fights and change, but we can’t be mad all of the time. I don’t know about you, but I get so tired of feeling furious.
I want to find the good, the silver lining, more often. I can’t enjoy life when I’m too busy being pissed for myself, for people, for the country. We can only take so much without losing our minds.
We worry and stress more than we need to. We cry and get angry over things that don’t require those emotions. We become overwhelmed with small tasks that we could finish quickly if we got to work and stopped being lazy.
There are millions of people who are fighting just to live. They have to go to hospitals and get treatments and go through chemotherapy and take dozens of pills. There are tests and preps for surgery and moments where they don’t know if they’re going to make it.
I don’t have any of that. I’m in good health. Sure, I have other struggles, but death isn’t looming over me like that. And it reminds me of how much I take life for granted, how I have to take time daily to appreciate it and be grateful for it.
“If you don’t take inventory of your blessings, ingratitude will try to steal them from you.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo
I’m not saying we’re not allowed to feel something other than happiness, hope, and goodness. We’re allowed to break down and feel like life sucks. We’re human!
I’m saying we need to reevaluate how often we feel angry and stressed because we feel them more often than we need.
It’s time we start enjoying life more often
We don’t know when we’re going to die. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather find ways to feel good and start avoiding the unnecessary things that make me angry.
“Any day above ground is a good day. Before you complain about anything, be thankful for your life and the things that are still going well.”
― Germany Kent
I want to love the only life I’ve been gifted with more often. And I hope you do too.
Stand by your window and watch the sun set. Appreciate every breath you take. Don’t stay in for the tenth night, and go bowling with your friends instead. Have breakfast with your sisters instead of eating alone again. Stop spending so much time on Netflix and find a hobby to lose yourself in.
Don’t worry about what someone will think about the article you’re writing today; just write it. I hope you make music, or sing from the top of your lungs, or paint something.
Convince your child to go outside with his friends instead of playing another video game. Tell your friends you love and appreciate them. Go to your parent’s house, and play some board games.
Tell your partner those three words you’ve been holding back in fear of rejection. Take the day off to go swimming. Instead of watching The Voice again, audition for the next season.
Feel something real, do something you love, take a chance, and appreciate every moment of today.
Because not everyone gets a today.