By Tracey Lemming
Lately, the chorus from Katy Perry’s “Part of Me” has been coming to my mind, over and over again. “This is the part of me, that you’re never gonna ever take away from me.” You know it, and it’s probably stuck in your head too now! I believe there is a part of me, and a part of you that no one can ever take away from us. As we see more of our freedoms being taken away, our soul, or inner world, is the part of us that is always ours. No one can ever take away our thoughts, feelings, and imagination.
I once read “Man’s search for meaning” by Victor Frankl. He was a Holcaust survivor, and what I remember most from this book was how even when he was faced with the worst unthinkable circumstances in the Nazi concentration camps, he chose how he reacted, and did not allow outside circumstances to break his spirit. We are all dealt cards in our life, and we get the choice on how we choose to play them. Do we fold, or do we choose another card, keep playing, and look for the chance for a royal flush? Do we find meaning in what has showed up in our life?
When my Dad was 45, he was diagnosed with a very rare, stage 4 cancer. I was 16, and when my parents told me that he had cancer, that was the first time I remember seeing my Dad cry. My parents didn’t tell me that it was stage 4 cancer with little chance of survival, so although I worried, I truly didn’t know the extent of what my Dad was up against until he passed away 20 years later. He didn’t complain about many of the obstacles he faced, including having a feeding tube at least for the last 10 years of his life and losing the use of his right arm due to the radiation. And because he didn’t complain, I rarely found things to complain about, and have always been able to see the bright side of things. One of my Dad’s friends spoke at my Dad’s funeral about how he showed up to work even when he didn’t always feel the best, because he knew if my Dad could show up for work when he faced many obstacles, so could he. It’s amazing, we really don’t know the example that we are setting for others simply by showing up when it would have been easier to not. What example are you setting for those around you?
My Dad used his VICTORY over cancer and his life’s journey to be an inspiration and mentor to many others. What he offered to many who faced their own battle with cancer was a great gift, HOPE. He was able to show others that no matter what you are facing, miracles happen every day. I believe that because he didn’t complain about his circumstances and used his creativity to find solutions, he was able to keep going when others may have thrown in the towel. There was a part of him that refused to give up, that always wanted to win. He was a champion in life, not just in 1972 when his beloved Pine Knots were Sectional Champs in basketball. Indiana basketball at its finest. My Dad kept the winning mentality throughout his life, even when part of him may have felt like giving up.
When my Dad was first diagnosed with cancer, he was given the books “Small Miracles: Extraordinary coincidences of Everyday Life” by Yitta Halberstam and “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff” by Richard Carlson. I read those books during this trying time, and these titles have become the themes of my life. I choose to look for meaning in the coincidences that show up in my life. Coincidence is taken from the word coincide, which means to fit perfectly together. I know that all that we receive is on purpose and in perfect timing. In the grand scheme of things, many things we see as big deals in the moment truly aren’t worth the stress and energy. Like anyone, I can get sucked into stress-response cycles, but they usually don’t last too long. There is a part of me that knows that all of us in this world are connected. We can easily see division if we look for it, but we can also see stories of strength, unity, and perseverance.
Think about the part of you that no one else can ever take away. It’s unique, and yours alone. It’s always with you, and in times of uncertainty and doubt, you will always find it within. Sometimes the endless chatter in our minds may drown it out, but when you take a moment to center yourself and let go of all the distractions, that is when it will appear. Keep breathing. Keep going. Know that no matter what uncertainty we all face at this time, there is a part of you that knows your next best step. There is a part of you that knows that healing and unity are possible. Embrace this one-of-a-kind part of you, and together these parts of us can illuminate the darkness. How will you use your light within you?