The Greatest Thing I’ll Ever Do

  Have you ever done something so significant that it feels like, for the rest of your life, you may never do anything nearly as important? And, because of that, you’ve reached the apex of your story and now your life is an epilogue from that moment on? Well it feels like I have, and it’s had a profound effect on my life.

  This deed has created a sort of second chapter for myself — there was my life before it happened, and there has been an entirely different life since.

  I’ve begun to think about it like this: everything leading up to that day was the first movie, it was Die Hard. And everything that happens after is the sequel, it’s Die Hard 2. Sure, everyone knows that Die Hard 2 isn’t as good as Die Hard, but we are able to accept that and enjoy it nonetheless.

  Having done what I did, I feel more compelled than ever to try and live my life aggressively and to consistently think big.

  I’m sure at this point you want me to cut right to the chase. You’re probably thinking, what could possibly be so important that this guy feels he can compare his life to that of the immortal John McClane? Well first off, I wouldn’t be so pompous to make such a comparison, but I’m flattered by the notion, so thank you. But Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that rings and jewels are not gifts, that the only true gift is to give a portion of thyself. Well, on August 4th, 2014 I gave just that.

*****

  My mother had been sick with cirrhosis, a life-threatening liver disease, for what seemed like ages. It’s a disease popularly associated with a lifestyle of heavy drinking, but anyone who knows my Mom knows that wasn’t the case. Besides a genetic predisposition to the disease, the doctors didn’t really find a good cause for it. How she got it doesn’t really matter, we knew the news meant my mom was headed down a long and tough road. But my mom never showed any sign of weakness or dispair, being as strong and selfless as anyone I’ve ever met. She continued to be optimistic. But not for herself; she did it for us. The last thing she wanted was for her family to worry about her.

  At the time she was originally diagnosed, I was attending college at SUNY Fredonia, a small drinking town an hour outside Buffalo, NY. Being away at school during the early days of her diagnosis made it easier on me than it was for the rest of my family. I could forget about things from time to time and try to stay positive. My dad was doing his best to shelter me from some of the harsher details so that I could focus on school while, at the same time, holding out hope that things would never actually get so bad that we would have to have those hard conversations about the realities of the situation. A fool’s errand, in retrospect.

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  My mother’s health would peak and valley but, in the fall of 2012, things took a turn for the worse. She developed an infection in the fluid surrounding her liver and had become extraordinarily sick. I was able to take some time off from school so I could go home and be with my family. One of the worst things I hope I’ll ever have to deal with is seeing my mother that sick, and to see her only getting worse as time went on.

  I’ll be honest, I didn’t handle it well. Much of my family was stronger than I was during this time. There was this one time: I was sitting on the edge of her hospital bed, trying my best to hold back tears, when my mom reached over and grabbed my hand to tell me everything was going to be alright. She could see how sad and frightened I was. She didn’t care about what was happening to her, she just didn’t want me to be in pain.

  Things didn’t get any easier. My mom continued to fight the best she could, but things escalated to such a level that the doctors were our only hope. They scrambled to get her health under control. They did all they could, but the worst seemed inevitable.

  She eventually slipped into a coma.

  This did not deter my family. They continued to be unyieldingly supportive; they were convinced it wasn’t her time.

  We continued to spend day after day, month after month at Strong Memorial Hospital. We would cycle through spending time together in her hospital room, the waiting rooms, and the cafeteria. We would sit beside her in her hospital room, usually four or five of us at a time, just making small-talk. We’d get the daily updates from the doctors and share any news that we thought would keep morale up. We would play cards, read books, reminisce on old stories and the details of our day; anything to fight the clock and to keep hope alive.

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  I don’t want to get lost in this part of the timeline, but I do want to take a second to say that my dad showed true grit through all of this. He exemplified what it means to be a man, a father, and a husband. He was strong for me and my brothers and very literally spent every night by my mother’s side. He actually went out and bought a cot just so he could stay the nights with her in the hospital.

  My dad ended up sleeping on that cot for over three months. During that time, my mom stopped breathing on her own and was put on a breathing machine among other various life-saving contraptions. Through all that, I think my dad spent less than seven nights at home. He stayed at the hospital as much as he could. He never complained. He was brave. I hope, one day, I can be half as strong for a family of my own as my father was for his.

*****

  After a while there came a day, and a moment, I will never forget. I had returned to school and was leaving my college house with one of my best friends. We were headed to our favorite sub shop to get a couple of sandwiches when my phone rang. I saw it was my dad so I answered right away. I knew that he and other members of my family were having a meeting that day with all the doctors to get an update on my mom’s condition. The phone call did not go as I had hoped.

  The doctors had told my family that there was little hope that my mom would ever wake up from her coma. That they had exhausted all of their options medically and didn’t really know where to go from there.

  I imagine the shock your body goes into when getting news like that is something similar to getting shot — or maybe more pointiently, similar to the moment John McClane realized Nakatomi Tower was being taken hostage. You know something really bad is happening, but you don’t really feel the severity of it yet and you don’t quite know how to react. After hanging up with my dad, I fell silent.

  Eventually the shock wore off and the emotions started rushing in. My buddy was driving and we were stopped at a red light — and I just got out of the car. I didn’t know what else to do. I had just been told I would probably never see my mother again. We were miles from home, but I needed to be alone, and I wanted to try and compose myself.

  I am not a religious person at all — if anything, this whole experience cut the last few strings keeping me hopeful for the existence of something like God. My mom, on the other hand, was — and still is — a devout Catholic. She exemplifies all that is good about faith and organized religion. She lives her life in service of others and finds so much comfort in belief. I bring this up because what happened next is what some would call an “act of God.”

  My mom woke up. It had been over three months and she just . . . woke up.

  Things got better for a little while. Better, I should say, is completely relative in this situation because things certainly weren’t great. Once again I was at school, but this time I was sheltered from way more of the details than I had been the first time. I don’t know if it was because my family wanted to save me from those details, or because I purposefully avoided them in an effort to ignore the situation and the accompanying pain.

  A few months later, my mom fell ill once more. The doctors would eventually call another meeting to tell my family that things were bleak, that my mom probably wasn’t going to make a recovery this time. She had not fallen into another coma, but things were just as bad as before. If not worse.

  But, my mother is a force to be reckoned with and, against all odds, she started to get better. Much like McClane defending Nakatomi Plaza from the shadows, she wasn’t going to go down without a fight.

  At this point, we knew there was no fooling around. She needed a new liver and she needed it as soon as possible. No one was naive enough to think my mom could make a miracle happen for a third time, and we sure as hell weren’t about to risk it. But the hard thing is, there is such a lack of cadaver donors that you have to be incredibly sick to get an organ from one. You have to ride this really thin line of being sick enough to move up the list, but not so sick that your body can’t handle the operation. It quickly became clear a live donor was the only real option.

  One of the miraculous things about the human body is that it’s able to regenerate a large portion of it’s liver. Doctor’s are able to remove upwards of sixty percent of a living donor’s liver and it will grow back, nearly to full size.

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  Every able-bodied person in my family offered to give my mother a portion of their liver. My mom lives her life in service of her family and her family was ready to do whatever necessary for her in return. My dad, her sisters and brothers, my cousin’s — they all offered. But my brothers and I felt it was our place to make this happen. My oldest brother had pre-existing medical conditions that took him out of the running, but my middle brother was a healthy guy and he started the process as soon as he could.

  Growing up in Rochester, New York, you are lucky to have a hospital as good as Strong Memorial. The work they did to keep my mother going for so long was fantastic. But a live organ donation is a very specialized procedure, so we wanted to make sure we went to the best facility possible. We exhausted a few options and finally decided on the Cleveland Clinic, about four hours away. They are the best of the best and had a phenomenal track record with this type of operation.

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  My brother eventually cleared all the medical exams and was deemed a suitable donor. The surgery was scheduled, hotels were booked and bags were packed.

  It was the week before the surgery and my brother and my parents were literally driving to Cleveland from Rochester when they received a call from one of their doctors. You see, part of the process of being cleared as a liver donor includes them sending an image of your liver off to Germany, where they are able to make a physical 3D rendering of your organ. Well, some of my brother’s doctors noticed something in the 3D rendering of his liver that they hadn’t noticed before. I don’t remember what the exact details were, but there are certain tubes that feed into and out of the liver and, in my brother’s case, they were wrapped in a way that made the coming surgery a much riskier operation than originally anticipated. Thus, my brother was no longer an eligible donor, and his surgery was called off.

  I had already been preparing myself for this possibility the entire time, but it was different now that it was a sure thing, especially since things seemed to being going so well for my brother. Nevertheless, I started preparing right away .

  I was still at school when I was gearing up for the operation, but I had such a strong support group helping me through it. My friends made me feel like a rockstar for what I was about to do, and that really helped to keep me motivated. Without them having my back, I would have certainly failed. I had stopped drinking, obviously, and started exercising and eating better. I was going to make sure that, when the time came, I’d be able to handle my proverbial Hans Gruber. In a way, what I was doing to prepare my body for the surgery helped keep me distracted from the crushing reality of it all.

*****

  The process of being cleared as an organ donor was an extensive one. It all starts by meeting your coordinator. This is the person you spend the most face-to-face time with. They organize everything and make sure that communication is fluid between you and all the doctors. I met with doctors who specialize in every major system and function of the human body. They made sure I was healthy enough to undergo such a substantial procedure in all facets, and also to make sure I was a going to be a good match for my mother. They also had me meet with psychologists and ethicists to make sure I was of sound mind and that I was doing this of my own volition.

  Through all the tests, all the vials of blood taken, and all the conversations about the terrible things that could happen to me if things were to go wrong, the one thing that sticks out the most is the liver biopsy.

  What they do, in a nutshell, is stick this giant needle into your abdomen to grab cells from the liver that they can test. They gave me a shot of something like novocaine to numb my body, and gave me fentanyl through an IV in order to relax me. I remember the doctor was listening to Bon Jovi or Queen or something like that through a bluetooth speaker sitting on the counter. The doctor and his nurse were singing along the entire time. This was probably an attempt to set me at ease and to lighten the mood, but all I can remember is how weird and off-putting it was. I know they meant well but, believe it or not, Livin’ on a Prayer wasn’t doing it for me right in that moment.

  The biopsy came back positive, I cleared all the other tests, and I was deemed a suitable candidate. It would be another couple months, but the morning of Monday, August 4th, 2014 would be the day of the operation.

  You’d think the nerves before a thing like that would be overwhelming, but they weren’t, really. I credit that confidence I had, once again, to my friends and family. A dozen of them even got hotel rooms in Cleveland with us to stay through the procedure. And the friends and family who weren’t there in person were singing my praises and sending me positive vibes from wherever they were. Also, my hospital room was BALLIN! They had me in the super VIP area where they bring people like Lebron James when he’s injured, so that helped.

  The morning of the surgery finally came. It was six o’clock in the morning and most of my support group was keeping it together, but the ride in my hospital bed to the operating room was intense.

  Some of my family started crying, I started crying; it was a mess. Then they rolled me up next to my mom just before we went in to our respective operating rooms to say our last goodbyes before the point of no return. This is where I lost it. It all became very real in this moment. I tried to hold it together but, if I’m being honest, I could hardly even look at her. Everytime I did, I started to break down. And the last thing I wanted was for her to think I was scared. My mom went into her operating room first and my coordinator gave me a second to compose myself before entering mine.

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  The room was huge — way bigger than I anticipated. There were about five of my team members there, including of course, my surgeon. There was this huge octopus-looking light hanging above me, tables upon tables of sterilized medical equipment next to me, and the whole room was freezing. The anesthesiologist started giving me instructions while he put a crown of sensors on my head so he could track my activity while I was under. The surgery was going to last many, many hours, so this was how they were going to make sure they continued to give me the correct dosage of drugs to keep me asleep.

  I haven’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about these moments in the operating room for whatever reason but, as I’m writing this, I’m remembering those ten or so minutes before my eyes closed.

  There is so much buildup to a moment like that. I was just lying there waiting to be cut open, and I started to become deaf to my surroundings. Not because of the drugs, but because there was so much going through my head.

  I was thinking about how this was finally happening. That it wasn’t theoretical anymore. That they were about to slice me open. That they were going to chop off a portion of my body. That I may never wake up. That this better fucking work.

  Even though I had been preparing for this moment for months, I was somehow still surprised by it.

  The docs are pros though, and they know not to let you sit there in silence for too long. This time, instead of jamming out to something corny like We Are The Champions, they tried their best to get me talking. They asked me what music I wanted to fall asleep too, but the surreal nature of the situation made that an impossible question to answer. I think I just said something like, “anything but country.”

  In retrospect, I would have liked to fall asleep to Fly Away With Me by Frank Sinatra. The lyrics would have had a totally unique meaning in that moment — and who else is better at keeping it cool than Frank?

  The next thing I know, the anesthesiologist is counting back from one hundred. By ninety-seven, I’m out.

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*****

  I have been told stories about how my family tried to pass the time in the waiting room that day. The Cleveland Clinic had a walking tour of modern art that you could take, so some of them tried that. There were holistic healers in the waiting room handing out essential oils and offering hand massages. There were therapy dogs everywhere. At one point, my uncle introduced my family to the comedic stylings of John Pinette in a somewhat successful attempt to lighten the mood. But, from what I’m told, the updates they were getting from the doctors were consistently positive so, at that point, I’m sure the fears of the worst case scenario had faded and the waiting became the unbearable part.

  Thanks to the amazing team at the Cleveland Clinic, after a grueling ten hours, it was over. The operation was a success. The care of the Cleveland Clinic staff was unbelievable and exceeded all of our expectations. There aren’t words for what they did for my family. And I can’t thank them enough for giving us my mother back.

  The entire thing seems like a dream thinking back on it. This entire portion of my life seems like it happened in alternate reality and, when it was over, in a sense, it was like it never happened.

  Just as I could write a million pages more about everything leading up to the operation, I could write just as much about the following week.

  The first three days were some of the worst days of my entire life. When I woke up in post-op, I was in such a crazy haze. I felt like I had chugged a dozen bottles of nyquil and had been hit by a semi truck. Other than the pain and physical exhaustion, I don’t really remember much from that day.

  The next day, I was still in post-op and the nurse they had assigned to me was very . . . let’s say . . . stubborn. She had me in this bed that kept moving up and down and side to side, seemingly at will. I imagine it was on a setting meant for people who can’t get out of bed for days on end, so it moved sporadically to help patients avoid bed sores. But I had just had my abdomen sliced open, and the last thing I wanted was a bed that kept shaking me around every five minutes. I kept trying to tell my nurse that this was happening, and she kept telling me I was imagining it. Once, she even came over and looked at the touch screen on the side of the bed to check the settings and still claimed I was imagining it.

  Eventually, the nurse’s assistant came in the room for something and I told her about the problem I was having. She knew exactly what I was talking about, came over to the touch screen on the side of the bed and fixed the problem in seconds. The care I received at the Cleveland Clinic was better than anything I could have hoped for, but no one is perfect.

  Later that day, the doctors cleared me to go back to my nice hospital room back in the VIP wing. But I had yet to see my mom since the surgery. I knew that the parts of the hospital she and I were each headed to were not close to each other and it was going to be days before I could see her. But right now we were both in post-op, not too far from one another. So I asked my nurse — the same one that told me I was wrong about the bed — if she could roll me past my mother before heading to the elevator. I just wanted my mom to see I was alright and already heading upstairs. The nurse sternly denied my request. She said that the path I would have to travel to see my mom was too far out of the way and I was to head straight to my room. I begged, my dad and brothers begged, but this nurse refused to let it happen.

  Enter the nurse’s assistant who helped me turn my bed off. She came over and I told her that the head nurse wasn’t going to let me see my mom before they took me upstairs. She, as any reasonable person would, saw this as ridiculous. If I remember correctly, the assistant was able to schedule the time I was to be moved upstairs to a time when there was going to be a shift change for the head nurses. In doing so, she was able to make it so she was the person to take me up to my room. She happily wheeled me past my mom on my way to my room.

  This is a moment I wish I could have waded in a bit longer. I wasn’t able to get too close to my mom, and we weren’t able to stop for very long, but we were able to exchange a few words of comfort. Unlike the moment before we went into the operating room, this one was a moment of victory and a moment of love.

  I finally got situated in my room where the docs had me generously pumped full of drugs. They originally put me on dilaudid, an incredibly strong pain medication, but I had an allergic reaction to it and started breaking out in hives.

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  I already had a mountain of anesthesia and pain meds coursing through my body, and now they had to give me full strength benadryl in my central line (the IV that goes into the big vein in your neck) to deal with the reaction I was having to the pain meds.

  You have to understand that when I take a children’s benadryl I’m asleep for a minimum of eight hours, so this cocktail of drugs they had me on really sent me places. I remember sitting there, unable to keep my eyes open, trying to decide if I had taken a drink of water. I knew I was thirsty and wanted to take a drink, but part of me was convinced I already had, so I shouldn’t do it again. I hadn’t taken a drink, by the way. I was just super stoned.

  The reaction from the drugs was the least of my issues, though. I wasn’t getting rid of enough fluid and it seemed like I was only getting worse as time went on. I had this tube coming out the side of my body, coming straight from the incision that was supposed to be removing fluids surrounding the area they operated on. The discomfort of  having something like that protruding from your body is already intense, but the tube didn’t seem like it was pulling enough out from around the area, so it wasn’t even performing its function. It was just causing pain. The doctors eventually had to take me out of my comfy VIP room in the sky and send me back downstairs for a few tests.

  The docs wanted to take x-rays of my chest at one point. In order to do this, I had to get up out of the bed, stand up straight, and stand completely still. The pain was so intense I could not for the life of me stand up straight, let alone stand still. It took far too many tries to get a good picture. I had over fifty staples across my abdomen and every little movement pulled at every last one them. I became frustrated and angry. My entire body was sore and I felt like death. All I wanted was to get back in the damn bed.

  Once I was back in my hospital room, all I wanted to do was rest — but all I could think about was how awful I was feeling. I had a giant flat screen TV hanging directly in front of me, but I couldn’t concentrate on anything that was on it. I usually spent my time laying there with my eyes closed, either trying to sleep, which proved difficult, or half-listening to my family talk around me. Every once in a while, I’d be able to hold somewhat of a conversation with someone, but it was almost always about how I was feeling, so I never stopped thinking about it.

  The weird thing is that, even though those first three days were so incredibly hard, when I woke up on the fourth day after the operation, I felt infinitely better. In fact, I was in shock at how much better I felt, considering how close to death I had felt just the day prior. But it was onward and upward from there. I was checked out of the hospital and headed to my hotel room by day six.

  I was required to have a dedicated caretaker during both my time in the hospital and my time at the hotel. My uncle stayed the nights with me in the hospital, so my brothers and dad could share their time between my mom and I as they pleased. But when it became time to go to my hotel room, my other uncle and aunt, who happen to be my parent’s best friends, spent that time with me. They tended to my every beck and call and put their lives on hold to make sure I was cared for. All three of them were incredible caretakers, and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did.

  I spent two weeks in that hotel room before being cleared to travel back home to Rochester. My mom would have to stay in Cleveland for over a month after the surgery.

*****

  It was a slow road to recovery, but I’m happy to say it’s coming up on the four year anniversary, and my mom and I are doing incredibly well. My liver has grown back almost to full size, and the sixty percent they took from me was a perfect match for my mother and it’s doing its job wonderfully – like there was ever any doubt.

  I also have this gnarly eighteen-inch scar on my abdomen now, which is pretty badass. It starts just below my sternum, goes down to just above my belly button, and then over to the right side of my body. People ask me if I mind the scar. I really don’t. I wear it as a badge of honor and a constant reminder of the greatest thing I’ll ever do with my life.

  So here we are: I’m not trying to be overly dramatic, but I saved a life. I didn’t just save any life, I saved the life of my own mother. The reason I say this so bluntly is not to boast, but because it’s something so profound, that it is impossible for me to think of a single thing I could do for the rest of my life that would come close to being as meaningful. At the age of twenty-four, I had accomplished the greatest thing I will ever do.

  With hopefully so much more life left to live, this realization is kind of a depressing one. In the years since the surgery this is still one of the things I think about most. It’s like I’m constantly living in it’s shadow.

  When I first started dwelling on this, I was overcome with this thought that I’ll never do anything better than that, so what’s the point of putting myself out there or pushing myself? Why continue to challenge myself? What am I trying to prove? I’ve lived a purposeful life. Boom. Over. Time to take it easy, hit cruise control, and sail into the sunset.

  To me, the reason you strive to become successful — to start a family or anything like that — is so you can say your life had meaning when it’s all over. I truly feel that, when I’m on my deathbed, this will be the deed that defines my life and gives it meaning. How could anything else be as significant?

  Not once have I ever regretted what I did. Nor will I ever. I could die tomorrow knowing I lived a life worth living, and that’s an indescribable feeling. But that doesn’t stop me from questioning how it’s affected my life, positively or negatively. It doesn’t stop me from having this overwhelming feeling that I need to accomplish something greater now while, at the same, time knowing that’s never going to happen.

  On the other hand, knowing you’ve already lived a life worth living really sets you free of any inclinations to play it safe. I’m able to make the decisions that are truly in my best interest, that allow me to think big.

  In the years since the operation, I’ve done my best to make my Die Hard 2 just as good as the original. I have moved away from my hometown of Rochester, New York to the ever-growing Nashville, Tennessee in an attempt to make a living in music. I’ve been a drummer since I was eight years old, and becoming a professional musician is the one thing that I know, if I can somehow make it work, will make me happy. Not that other careers couldn’t also make me happy, but there is no gamble in the choice to chase music. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to chase this dream or if I would have stayed so committed to the idea of moving here if it weren’t for having gone through such a dramatic procedure. I was able do this because I know that, even if I fail at this endeavour, my life has not been a failure.

  My life will never be defined by failure.

  I try my best to not let myself feel too self-righteous. I try to keep this experience as a personal victory. Something that I don’t need to brag about or bring up all the time to get the adoration of my peers, but something that, when I’m feeling down and out, I can think back on and feel proud.

  Honestly, it’s a bit uncomfortable bringing this up to new people anyway since it’s such a heavy topic. I don’t want to be known as the guy who constantly brings up that one time he saved his mom’s life.

  But sometimes it’s hard to keep it to myself. It was such a major part of my life, and it’s changed who I am as a person so drastically. The more someone gets to know me, the more it’s bound to come up.

  And why shouldn’t it? Am I supposed to act like it didn’t happen? I’m proud of what I did. It’s a story with a happy ending, and I think the world needs more of those.

  I sometimes think that my story is unique enough that I must have come out the other side with some unusual outlooks on life. I must have learned some tough life lessons that put certain things into perspective and gathered some wisdom worth spreading. I’m sure there is someone I can help, having gone through all that my family and I have.

  Ultimately, that’s what drove me to write this. I’ve always seen writing as therapeutic. It’s the best way I can organize all the thoughts and feelings I’m having about any topic. I started doing this in regards to the operation awhile back and, just recently, I started re-reading what I had written. Upon revisiting the document, I started to realize that some of the woes I used to have are no longer a factor. I realized that I was able to turn these personal dilemmas into personal enlightenment. I realized I had learned enough from this, and enough time has passed, that I was finally ready to tell my story.

*****

  I’m sure I’ll have even more profound things to say about this event later in life but, today, I think that I may have a useful thought experiment.

  I want you to think about what it would be like if you had a life defining moment such as this. Would you feel more free to take chances? Would you be living your life any differently? Maybe you wouldn’t, and that’s great. But maybe some of you are so wrapped up and intimidated by the idea of failure or by the perceived likelihood of failure that you don’t feel empowered to take chances. Afraid that if you fail, that you would have wasted precious time and years of your life. Afraid of what others may think if you swing for the fences and come up short. This is a common, but toxic way of thinking.

  I think we all owe it to ourselves to take the time to identify what really matters to us in life, so we can make the changes that will align with those priorities. Maybe that’s to become an actor, or get married and have kids, to run your own business, to buy a house, or go back to school. Whatever it is, you should be willing to take risks and be willing to fail. Everyone deserves a chance to live their best life.

  This experience helped me realize how important it is for all of us to prioritize our own happiness. I think lots of people don’t feel free to do that. They don’t see it as possible or realistic. But it is.

  I’ve come to realize that pain is unavoidable, terrible things happen to good people, and life is going to be extraordinarily rough at times — for everyone.

  And you know what? That’s okay. For me, knowing that the pain and darkness is unavoidable means that every day in which I find myself in the light is a great day. I try my best to be productive and enjoy those days, because I know how tough life can get. It also puts certain life problems into perspective because when I talk about “how tough life can get” I don’t mean the “Game of Thrones isn’t coming back until 2019” sort of tough, or “there’s an accident on the interstate and it’s going to take me an extra hour to get home” sort of tough. I’m talking about the real type of tough. And if those tough times are unavoidable, why would I spend the time in which I’m lucky enough not to be dealing with those types of hardship by doing anything but working towards true happiness?

  You deserve your own happiness. Not the happiness other people tell you that you deserve. Not the happiness they say is possible.

  No matter who you are, there are going to be tough times ahead. The only way we can brave those tough times is knowing that they are temporary and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We need to take it upon ourselves to create that saving light. We need to create a life for ourselves that is worth coming back to. We need to give the studio a reason to make a sequel.

  I’ve been trying to think of some more words of wisdom from someone whose name carries some weight like I did with Mr. Emerson at the top. I’ve been searching for a phrase that really encapsulates the tone of my message and my new philosophy on life. But really there’s only one phrase that comes to mind.

  Yippie-ki-yay, motherfucker!

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Written by: Greg Rood

Edited by: Zain Syed