It seems that as we age our perception of what builds character goes through a metamorphosis. In our younger years, character seems to be about those who have everything; in essence, we aim for perfection, the “perfect” job, the “perfect” family, and the “perfect” lifestyle. As we age I think it becomes more about who we really are as opposed to what we have. Perhaps, it is because we ourselves have endured more or been witness to others’ overwhelming life challenges but often this “feeling” evolves and character becomes essential in friendship. For me true character is displayed in how people navigate through challenges, I believe it is what really defines who they are.
I am in my forties now and I am going through a type of evolution, although I was always inspired by others’ inner strength I find I am naturally drawn to those who have overcome adversity and triumphed. They are not perfect; they have flaws but they accept them, are honest with themselves and embrace what helps them stay balanced and humble. I find myself pulling away from those more concerned about materialistic concepts, those who live for drama or those who won’t help themselves and find I am gravitating towards those who try to move forward despite their situation, treat people with respect and appreciate that life is a gift.
I am blessed to have many friends who although they endure challenges, have a sense of grace about the way they handle them. They have good days and bad days, they are hardly saints but they leave an indelible impression on my heart. No longer, do I admire those who seem to have “everything” for me it is more about those who despite their situation open their hearts, embrace love, share, care and live in balance.
Almost two years ago, I met a wonderful friend online; I was a bit of a skeptic about making friends online but this person touched my heart. Even though we lived on opposite sides of the continent we ended up talking daily, turned out we had similar likes, dislikes, philosophies and values. This friend is beautiful, has a wonderful life, three gorgeous kids a great husband, she has “everything” but what stood out most is her amazing spirit. This friend is a 25-year brain cancer survivor, and what spoke the loudest was her ability to see the positive side of everything.
One of her biggest challenges occurred last year, her mother who had just moved in, was diagnosed with terminal COPD and sadly passed away weeks later. I spoke with her everyday, often several times a day throughout her ordeal and she always tried to be positive. My friend devastated by her Mom’s passing, wanted to make a difference and managed to channel her grief into helping others, she began to write articles for the COPD Foundation sharing her mother’s story and the challenges they had gone through during her illness. We would often talk after she wrote her articles, often she would be in tears but she hoped that by sharing her story she would be able to help others. Months later this friend also decided to reach out to others suffering the same type of brain cancer that she had overcome, as difficult as it was she realized that by talking with them and sharing her story she gave them hope.
Recently this friend had to endure another setback that tested her and showed yet again, her beautiful spirit. In July, she developed Hydrocephalus as a result of her previous cancer surgery and had to undergo brain surgery. This same friend displaying her usual caring, called from her hospital bed upset that she would not get to talk to me on birthday but wanted to send me wishes. Again, this woman has had to endure another battle and true to form, she is handling it with grace, honour and dignity. Although she is healing and she has bad days, she never fails to ask a person how they are doing, offer positive words, and true to form she is trying to find a way to help others. To me she is an inspiration and I am really so proud to call her a friend.
It is these types of people; those who handle adversity with the utmost grace and balance, who love and respect unconditionally; they inspire and motivate me to be a better person and help me appreciate how precious life is.
For those that say aging is for the birds I disagree, I think the older you are the more you see the “big picture”, you appreciate things that you once took for granted and you now realize that you may be getting older but you never stop evolving and this my friends is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer!:)
~Born out of our adversity comes true strength and beauty.~
Live, laugh & love!