The unluckiest blessed life

If you’re going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill

I am just an ordinary guy. A good job, loving family, great friends, my share of good luck and bad, ups and down and all those exciting things the life has to offer. I try to do all the right things, avoid mistakes as much as I can, and when I fall into a swamp, I stay there for a bit, wallow in its warmth and then crawl out of it eventually. Just an ordinary guy I suppose :). But when it comes to my share of luck, I consider myself to be extraordinary, especially the bad kind. Although I know several other people with greater bad luck and tragic stories and thier respective triumphant recovery in their lives, I feel I have my share as well, much less triumphant or tragic, but certainly a lesson to share. Let me tell you why by sharing a little story about myself:

The Story:

 After a rather hurtful divorce a few years ago, as I continued to sink into my severe depression, I began to take comfort in my pain and agony by accepting what life had dealt me with and coping with a perceived fact that I am perhaps one of the many unlucky person in this world and I am destined to perish facing my share of betrayals and sorrow. It was perhaps a defeatist position to assume yet it offered some sense of comfort in shamelessly wallowing in my world of self pity. It was indeed the lowest point yet that I had experienced in my life I thought. But as they say, once you hit the bottom the only way is up.

One day I was woken with news that altered my state of pathetic existence for ever. I had lost one of my much younger cousins who was very much loved by the whole family. He had a blood clot in the foot which travelled up to into one of his main arteries that eventually took his precious young life in a matter of few moments. The ensuing agony, shock, pain, and disbelief only grew stronger watching and trying to share the unimaginable grief of his mother and his siblings cope with this tragic loss. Although, I was always aware of greater sufferings of others in comparison to mine, this earth shattering event so close to home came to me as a much needed slap across my face to wake me up from my despicable existence in self pity. It did not only belittle the pain I suffered from my personal experiences but it made me realize that life can be extremely short and absolutely unpredictable. From that realization onwards, I began to look at life with some sense of hope and look at myself with a strong sense of disgust and anger for becoming a negative individual.

Life moves on though. I found the true love of my life, fell hopelessly in love after cautious considerations and evaluations, and moved ahead in life with new hope and zest. But I still continued to carry a fair amount of negative energy within me as I still had reasons enough to consider myself as an unlucky individual. It was the summer of 2011 in the smouldering heat and humidity of fascinating Istanbul, Turkey (my wife’s home town), I got married. A series of events that lead to the big day was very interesting to say the least. It reaffirmed my adamant belief that I am perhaps one of the unluckiest individual on this planet. My hotel room was horrible, I switched three rooms in one night, I was having trouble coping with the stress and anxieties of my wonderful bride to be, the day before the wedding my Credit Card got swallowed by the ever trusting ATM machine at a local bank, I had no cash on me, and it was the Friday evening of the July long weekend. Yes, no bank or credit card company could do anything to help me until the 5th of July. But I had to pick up by car from Avis the next morning, and pay for some of the expenses the next morning before our wedding reception. I remember standing on the street corner at 3:30 am that night cursing my luck, life and everything I could curse after hanging up the phone with my credit card company.

But, you are blessed in many other ways. My wonderful family bailed me out of this mess the next morning and the big day began with me trying to cool my blood shot eyes with tea bags and never ending love and comfort from my family. Of course, it rained that morning so we couldn’t go ahead with our planned picture taking session at the park, the brides hair dresser took longer than planned, and the usual little wonderful bits and pieces of unpleasant surprises ensued. Amidst all this peripheral chaos, we got married on a boat on the enchanting Bosphorus strait.

The next morning my newly wedded wife woke up with a sudden pain in her lower abdomen. After initially neglecting it for a while, we assumed it to be stress related or some indigestion. By that night she was writing in acute pain. The next morning we rushed to the local emergency to have it checked. After the initial tests I was called in by the doctor. As I walked into his room I found my wife sitting there crying uncontrollably. The young doctor told me that she has an severely enlarged ovarian cyst and as per the ultra sound he has to immediately take her in for a surgery. The prognosis; she may lose her ovaries and never be able to conceive, but he will do his best to save at least one of her ovaries. Either way, she has to be operated immediately. We went ahead with his wisdom and he managed to save both her ovaries and she came out just fine. I spent that night postponing our return to Canada, cancelling my hotel and flights for our short honeymoon, losing a few more dollars, hope, peace, aspirations and once again reaffirming my enduring trust in my bad luck.

A month and a half later, the love of my life was home with me in Canada. I reluctantly began to force myself into rebuilding my hopes for the future. All slowly began to fall in place and we began to settle down. I dared to hope again as the clouds began to part ways in my life. Perhaps this was the last of it. I shall go full steam ahead here on.

Happiness is beneficial for the body but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.  ~Marcel Proust

On the 26th of September, just 12 weeks since the day we got married, we returned home after dinner. I flipped open my laptop to check my emails and my wife was sitting across me checking hers on her laptop. I lost my conscience for a few brief seconds. When I woke up I realized that I had fainted. I immediately lay down and put my foot up the couch thinking it is perhaps a simple case of syncope. A condition where the blood circulation gushed downwards and there isn’t enough blood being pumped cutting off the amount of oxygen required. A few minutes of lying down and letting the blood circulation get back in order would help the condition. I learned this from a doctor in the ER just a week before my wife joined me when I fainted at my friends’ house for the first time in my life. But this night it was different. I began passing out at every 5-6 minute intervals. In the next couple of hours I woke up after a near death experience at the ER with a temporary pacemaker inserted via the side of my neck. I was told that my heart muscles and arteries were just perfect and healthy and all other vital signs were fine. I didn’t not suffer with a heart attack either. But I had suffered a full heart block. In layman’s terms this is a condition where the electrical pulses around the heart do not pass from the upper to lower chambers. In a week’s time I had a permanent pacemaker implanted.

Did I say that you only bounce back up once you hit the bottom earlier? Well, define “bottom” of life.

I remember whiling away the time in the hospital as I had to wait for my surgery for a few days. I had never come this close to death ever. I am one of the chosen most unluckiest person on the face of this world. I should begin writing my acceptance speech just in case I win the Oscar for being the saddest tragedy stricken story in the world. But instead I began to see all this as a new beginning. I couldn’t understand if this is just a natural condition of us human beings to thrive and survive any calamity that happens to us, but I once again began to muster the courage to stand upon the crutches of endless love, support and total dedication of my wife, the unconditional and empowering love of my family and the love so generously offered to me by my friends.

But I can also tell you one thing about realizing how short life can be. You begin to appreciate a life and everything it offers a lot more. A simple slice of plain bread tastes much better, a morning sunrise is lot brighter and even a simple blade of grass looks beautiful and needless to say, you begin to see the good in every person you know lot more. For if you hadn’t woken up, you would have never see all these things ever again that you once took for granted.

The Lesson:

It has been slightly over a year since that event now. Thirty pounds lighter, healthier, happier, very much in love, doing pretty well at my work I am well on my merry way to building my dreams once again. But all this happened because these experiences thought me 3 simple but profound things about life.

1) Your share of curve balls: Life will throw you your share of curve balls all the time. But it is in your choice and reaction that you can either get hit by it smack on your face, miss it or lean into it and whack the hell out of it. There is no escape from these curve balls. Every single person, rich or poor, successful or struggling, young or old, regardless of their social status, economic conditions, age, gender or education, will face their share of adversities in life. Everyone faces their sorrows, pains, heart breaks, ill health, hurdles, challenges, obstacles and failures. There is absolutely no escape from it. You are not special in any way when it comes to complex life obstacles. Every successful person from the Presidents to Scientist or Celebrities has faced them, well the Prophets of our great religions weren’t spared either. But how we choose to react to them, tackle them, solve them, dodge them or break them lies absolutely in our choice and reaction. Perhaps this is the only good thing we can do with them. Or we can insult our own intelligence, skills, learning, experiences, support and love from others, and choose to curl up and die leaving behind a grand tale of failure, defeat, and inaction.  Either way, be prepared for those curve balls coming your way.

2) Do not waste your time: Life is too short to waste your time on insensible living. Our life wasted on holding prejudices, hate, egoistic living, sense of self entitlement, vanity, dwelling in self sympathy, narcissism, arrogance, and above all deliberate ignorance of facts and realities soon brings you to a time and situation in your life where you feel you have done absolutely nothing worthwhile. I realized what I wanted to do in my life the day I began to write a letter on what I wish my loved ones and the world to remember me as “If I die today”. You begin to think about your purpose and accomplishments and what they mean to you in relation to your interactions with others. You soon realize that you find your happiness in several small greater things in life. You will then be inspired to pick up that phone and make peace with those who have hurt, and with those who hurt you, express your love to everyone that you can, bring even the smallest moments of happiness to your loved ones, spend more time with those who mean more to you and perhaps leave behind a few stories that people shall feel inspired with and remember you by.

3) Realize your blessings: You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that you have more blessings than life challenges when you begin to count them. Like me, many people look at life by measuring their share of challenges and unlucky events. And when you adopt this point of view about life, you only get consumed by such continuous and relentless negative events. You also invariable begin to attract such negative events in your life by your behaviours and choices. The only way out of this is to reach out and look for the several ropes of blessings that are dangling right beside you in your darkness, grad hold of them firmly, and pull yourself out of your rut. These ropes of blessings are of two kinds. a) – The natural sources that you have been blessed with. i.e. your family, siblings, parents, home, and the care, support, love, courage, and comfort they offer. b) – the ropes of blessings that you yourself weave for times like these . i.e. your good deeds in life, the friends you choose, your education, your efforts on self development, intellect, experiences, character etc.

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant. ~Horace

Patience and perseverance is key to any progress. We instinctively demonstrate these qualities in certain things in life but fail to in many. For instance, when we play a video game, we patiently go from one level to another with great patience in manoeuvring ourselves through a complex obstacle race. When we fail, we start over again with a renewed vigor and a different strategy, and we do it over and over again until we finish one level and move ahead to another. And this time it is the same battle but with a much more complex and difficult set of challenges that needs a lot more strategizing and patience. And we willingly endure these several hours of entertainment which in fact is an exhausting session of one challenge after another. We accept the fact the challenges will only get tougher as we head towards the finish. Nights after nights, hours after hours, we fail and get up and persevere. We at times strategize with other players, develop cheats, strategies and eventually finish the task only to chuck it away and get ourselves a tougher challenging game. If only we can take this very approach to life and every thing we wish to accomplish in our lives? We are excellent when it comes to coping with challenges. But we only learn this once we jump into one.  So, be prepared and always ready to face that curve ball coming your way. Always remind yourself of this single most important fact about people and life. Before the great people of past and present accomplished extraordinary things, they too were just as ordinary as you and I and they too faced and continue to face their curve balls of life. You are blessed with your life challenges, embrace them and learn from them.