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Rules of Engagement

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News April 2013

If you decide to live, it should be with purpose.

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I’ve experienced more than one friend losing his life before his time.  Sometimes it was due to unfortunate circumstance, sometimes it was old age and other times it was by choice. There was a time when I thought about choosing that direction.

As I seriously contemplated ending my life, I looked deep into some of the actions of the others around me, and I came to a realization.

Some of the deaths weren’t simply due to unfortunate events or circumstances but from a lifetime of self abuse and neglect. I, too, was at that point in the decision process, whether I was going to live or die.

To Be or Not to Be

 

That raised a question within me. Don’t I have the right to choose for myself? Well, legally the answer is no; it’s against the law to kill yourself.

However, it’s not against the law to drink yourself to death, wear your body to the point you just keep losing limbs, or be so irresponsible that you spend the rest of your life going back and forth from a care facility to the hospital.

So, when my wife said, “Please do something with your rehab; I can’t stand here watching you waste away into nothing,” I realized at some point in our struggles we all have to choose whether we’re going to live or die.

Then we choose how we’re going to live or die. Some choose to die quickly, some slowly. Some choose to live with purpose, and others choose resentment and anger. I decided if I was going to live, it would be with purpose. But I had no idea how to proceed.

Fighting for What?

I had an abundance of help with the other three choices, but that was not where I wanted to go.

I remembered when I was much closer to death, fighting for my life, how much I wanted to live. I wondered where that passion for life went. Why was I so willing to throw away what I fought so hard to keep?

I wanted to give up in the hospital, but my wife and father refused to allow me to let go. It was from that memory I began to formulate my “Rules of Engagement.”

One at a Time

These are to be taken one step at a time, and in numerical order. I found each step is an emotional whirlwind in itself, but it’ll pull you out of the abyss you’ve fallen into, if it’s your wish to climb out.

 

                  (1)                  You’re your first line of defense.

                  (2)                  Put someone in your corner who will not let you fail.

                  (3)                  Learn to be happy with nothing.

                  (4)                  Depression? OK, but don’t let it rule over you forever.

                  (5)                  Life goes on, with or without you.

                  (6)                  Every day, take time to play.

                  (7)                  Don’t  measure yourself  by what happens to you but by how you handle what happens to you.

                  (8)                  Never ever stop dreaming.

                  (9)                  Love is not the answer, but it may be the key.

                  (10)                  You’ve got to stop and smell the roses. 

Stop & Smell

That last one is from the lyrics of one of the songs that gets me through the day. Stop and Smell the Roses is by Mac Davis, a country music singer and all-around good guy.

 

Hey there mister, where you going in such a hurry?

Don’t you think it’s time you realized?

There’s a whole lot more to life than work and worry.

And the sweetest things in life are free, and they’re right before your eyes.

But you’ve got to stop, and smell the roses.

You’ve got to count your many blessings every day.

You’re going to find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road,

If you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.

Before you went to work this morning in the city.

Did you spend some time with your family?

Did you kiss your wife and tell her that she’s pretty?

Did you take your children to your breast, and love them tenderly?

Man you’ve got to stop and smell the roses.

You’ve got to count your many blessings every day.

You’re going to find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road,

If you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.

Did you ever take a walk through the forest?

And stop and dream a while among the trees?

You can look up through the leaves right to heaven.

And you can almost hear the voice of God, in each and every breeze!

But you’ve got to stop, and smell the roses.

You’ve got to count your many blessings each and every day.

You’re going to find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road,

If you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.

 

Just give it a chance, OK? These “Rules of Engagement” saved my life, and turned a life of regret to one of excitement and wonder. I hope it does the same for someone out there. 

 

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