“The most important thing is to enjoy your life—to be happy—it’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn
Yesterday, I had a two inch chunk of skin removed from my left arm as a result of a melanoma diagnosis I received a few weeks ago.
I’m not going to lie and say that I wasn’t scared when I first received the diagnosis. I’ve had my fair share of health scares in the past, but this was different—people actually die from this shit.
Luckily, my diligence (and perhaps a minor bout of hypochondria) allowed it to be diagnosed in the early stages, and other than a gnarly battle wound I should be just fine.
I am lucky. I’m grateful that it was caught in time before doing too much harm. But I will say receiving a diagnosis like the “C” word gave me a bit of a wake up call. It made me reflect on what’s really important in life and what really mattered to me.
And the things that matter most to me are the same things that are important to many of us: family, relationships, leading a happy life, and of course, being (and staying) healthy.
But far too often, we tend to take the things we hold dear for granted. Many times, the important things take a back seat to the mundane, trivial affairs of daily life, with the false impression that there’s a guarantee that these things will still be around “when we get to them”.
But there is no guarantee. And then the next thing you know, you’re getting divorced because your spouse feels neglected, or your relationship with your child is strained because you didn’t spend enough time with them, or you get diagnosed with melanoma (or worse).
While my circumstance could’ve been much worse, my little “wake up call” was a blessing in disguise because it further solidified my decision to pursue a simpler life. It reminded me to focus on creating a life which allows me the freedom to invest my time on what’s important to me and what makes me happy. It motivated me to remain undeterred in my pursuit despite the pressures of society and its false measures of “success” and the “American Dream”.
And at the end of the day, it helped me to realize more than ever that a fancy schmancy house, shiny new car, and designer threads are not the equivalent of a happy life. Because in the millisecond that my future was uncertain to me, when reflecting on what makes me happy and what I would stand to lose if the unthinkable happens, I wasn’t thinking of my house, my car, or my clothes.
The things that came to mind were the people in my life, the time I spend with them, the memories we’ve made, and the experiences we’ve had together. And—at the risk of sounding trite—those are the things that money simply can’t buy.