Friday, June 13, 2008

An Incredible Wake Up Call, Pt. II

When I woke up this morning, it dawned on me that my previous post, An Incredible Wake Up Call really lit me up and was very exciting, but it didn't refer to anything tangible regarding where I plan to go with it. Like, "Okay Bert, you're clearly inspired but what the hell are you talking about? What is it specifically that you intend to "bring to the world?"

What I am talking about is a context for living my life. A commitment to viewing all that I receive in life as a gift is a way to be empowered by my experiences as opposed to being the victim of them. It's real easy to get into the "Why me?" way of looking at life. Hell it's a great question and I'd love to know the answer. But guess what - there's nothing empowering about that. And as far as I can see, it's a trap and an ugly one at that.

When I don't feel empowered in life, I choose to stop right there and ask myself why. It's often the context from which I'm viewing the circumstances. Is what I am doing occurring like a burden? Maybe I need to shift the context by looking at what it provides me.

So, I am committed to "bring to the world" a different conversation than the one I'm used to having. The old conversation is "Why me? Why do I have cancer? This is terrible." Well I don't think anybody is going to argue with me about that. But here's the deal: that conversation has me become a victim of cancer and I'm not interested in living my life as a victim.

Now viewing all I receive in life as a gift does not mean I give up being mad, sad, heartbroken, scared, etc. These feelings will always show up. I am certain life's circumstances are going to be pretty difficult now and again. But it's who I am and what I do in the face of those circumstances that makes the difference.

So my commitment is to take on that conversation and forget the old one. I find the big life altering problems an exciting opportunity to take on life powerfully, once I've gotten through the emotions and gotten some perspective. It was a lot easier to look at cancer as a gift then it was for me to look at a particular person who I would find myself often angry with as a gift. And I intend to slowly close that gap and be the change I want to see in the world.

So that's what I'm talking about. I hope that provided the sufficient tangible example that I missed in the first entry.


  1. I had a moment like that once. It was at Giant's Stadium. You may have heard stories about my experience there.

    In fact, I have a motto to remind me of the vision I perceived that fateful day. As the colors were swirling and the buildings were crumbling away, there was a carnival style barker shouting out:

    "Life. The Greatest Show on Earth."

    I havent told this to a lot of people. I had an awakening that day like the one you described.
    Let's keep this a secret so that people dont think I am getting soft. I need to maintain my reputation as an angry man.

    Love to you and yours! Go do some swimming or something. It is freaking hot!

  2. Very well said, Bert...

    I tried to blog about this the other day and it came out very differently for me, as it would, since I am a different person. I was talking about breaking this life-long habit of negative thinking that I have, which I learned from my parents and through my experiences in childhood, and which I think is a set-up for getting sick again.

    My natural tendency, after being inclined to that same "why my?" victim stance (which I have also been working to shed), is to worry about recurrence. And while it is true that this is already my second occurrence of breast cancer, it does not mean that I will necessarily develop metastatic breast cancer, or any other kind of cancer.

    My last cancer alerted me to changes I needed to make in my career and in certain life priorities. This cancer is much more about making changes in my reactions to life and to my relationships, particularly my family relationships, and moving towards a place of positivity and away from fearfulness and negative thinking.

    Bernie Seagal writes about these questions in his book "Love, Medicine and Miracles". He talks about cancer as an opportunity to become our more authentic selves. If you have not read his book, I highly recommend it.

    Maria Brown

  3. reply to maria brown:

    thanks maria. the power of the mind is an amazing thing.

  4. This was an inspiring post. I coincidentally came across this quote within a day of reading it and just had to share it:

    “Each disease is uncertain in its outcome, and within that uncertainty, we find real hope, because a tumor has not always read the textbook, and a treatment can have unexpectedly dramatic impact. This is the great paradox of true hope: Because nothing is absolutely determined, there is not only reason to fear but also reason to hope. And so we must find ways to bridle fear and give greater rein to hope.”

    Jerome Groopman, M.D., How People Prevail in the Face of Illness: The Anatomy of Hope

    First prize, Bert for giving reins (nay-wings!to hope!)in such an exuberant way!

  5. Dude – The "Incredible Wake up Call" post was VERY well said... and VERY inspiring. You make me want to get cancer. Well... maybe not full-blown cancer... just "pinky-toe cancer". ;)

    -Kevin P.

  6. Hi Robert,
    I love your blog, its wonderfully candid and thought provoking. I too am fighting the good fight. I found out I have stage 3 colon cancer in March of this year.

    I've added a link to your site on my blog page under "Blogs I follow" and was wondering if you like my blog if you can do the same? My blog is

    thanks in advance and keep up the fight!! ツ