I suppose I should start this blog post by saying I do not even know Jamie. Unfortunately for me, I never met him – he is the friend of a friend. Utterly tragically, Jamie died on Saturday, aged just 23, after battling with a terrible disease. 23 years old. And I was about to blog about how annoying my hair is. A little perspective is needed.
Obviously, I would much much rather I didn’t get the perspective in this form. I would much rather Jamie and all the other young adults with cancer and other dreadful conditions could actually just be happy, carefree young adults like the rest of us are – that way, we could all go around blissfully unaware of our own happiness because we have nothing tragic and unjust with which to compare it. The truth, unfortunately (and I think that’s about the most pitifully inadequate word I’ve ever seen – this is so much more than unfortunate, but there are no words to do this justice), is a very different story.
The fact is, those of us with health (and a roof over our heads and safety and people who love us etc) – we are the ones who really should learn to shut the hell up. We are the ones with all the luck, with nothing important to complain about. And yet we are the ones complaining. The Jamies of the world – the ones who undergo grueling treatment that doesn’t always work, the ones who have their lives stolen and who can’t even do everyday things – they show incredible strength, beauty of character, and dignity: basically, the kind of stuff the rest of us seem to forget about amidst all the whinging about how our hair straighteners don’t work, the aircon in the office is always the wrong temperature and we just got out-bidded for a Wii Fit on Ebay.“Oh, FML.” Yeah: we suck.
I think if we used all the time we spend complaining to actually do something while we still can, we’d have a lot less to complain about. And if that ‘something’ is worthwhile, then even better. You haven’t got time to be scared if you want your life to be a collection of memories that make you smile, make you proud, make you alive. If your hair straighteners don’t work, shut up and get some new ones. There will be other Wii Fits on Ebay. You can wear layers. Now go away and volunteer somewhere, climb a mountain, write a book, ride a camel, teach English in China, do the Hokey Cokey, knit something – whatever, just seize the day with both hands and don’t let it go until you’ve squeezed something good out of it. Not everyone has days to seize.
Image taken from the hugely talented, living-life-to-the-full Laura Thompson. Photography to be proud of.