As we turned the page to 2015, I couldn’t help but feel excitement over a blank canvas, a chance to begin again. I spent the first few days chewing over my ideas for a blog post…about a fresh start, positive attitude, and gratefulness that we get to hit the reset button every January. I was planning a mini-pep talk to encourage us to move forward with great anticipation. And then I woke up to a text telling me Stuart Scott had died. It felt like a sucker punch to the gut. Even now, it’s still hard to believe he passed away. I always knew if anyone could beat cancer by sheer will, it would be Stuart. He attacked this disease all three times he was diagnosed, finding motivation in his family and friends and a job he loved, and fighting back with a vengeance. He literally gave it everything he had.
A cultural icon for sports fans and athletes of this generation, Stuart was a superstar in the broadcasting industry. He helped to usher in a new, hip, cool era of SportsCenter and left his fingerprints all over this business. Plenty of people wanted to BE him; yet in my encounters with him as a colleague, he was kind, friendly, unassuming. Above all else, he was an inspiration. Like thousands of others, I was reduced to tears listening to him accept the Jimmy V Perseverance Award in July: “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live. So live. Live! Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, then lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you…The best thing I have ever done, the best thing I will ever do is be a dad…I can’t ever give up because I can’t leave my daughters.” Those weren’t just words for Stuart. He walked the walk. Even as the cancer and treatments took their toll on his body, he showed up to work and did his job with the same energy and gusto. I was always amazed that he could muster the strength for MMA training sessions immediately after chemotherapy. Who does that?? The same guy who said a few short months ago: “Fighting is winning. Not quitting…not saying, ‘Oh I have cancer. I can’t do anything. I’m just going to lay down and cry a pity party for myself.’ That to me is the only way you lose.”
Even with his awesome attitude, with a heart and mind equipped to fight and inspire, with all the support of his family and friends, Stuart couldn’t add another year to his life. How is that right? How is that FAIR?? The obvious response is that life is not fair. Nothing is guaranteed. There is no way to be sure we’ll wake up tomorrow. Some of us may be forewarned of death, but we can’t be sure of that either. The idea that you can fight so hard and live the right way and yet only survive to 49 years old…it’s heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, and discouraging. I can understand how some live in fear, afraid to take any kind of risk. And it’s not only battles with cancer that rip your heart out. If you watch the news these days, you know our world is rife with tragedy: plane crashes and disappearances, senseless terror attacks, school shootings, domestic violence, deadly wars overseas, and horrific natural disasters. Beyond depressing…almost like the odds are stacked against us. But one thing I know without a doubt: we can’t truly live while worrying about when the end will come. In order to create an existence with impact, we have to adopt Stuart’s philosophy to fight like hell, attack every day and every challenge. We have to believe the best is yet to come.
Not every day is extraordinary. Not every week gives you the opportunity to change your life or leave an indelible mark. Not every year is one you cherish and look back on with fond memories. Some days, weeks, and years are flat out hard. We slog through them, wondering if we’ll ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why I always love turning the page on January first: it’s a chance to fix the mistakes I made the year before. But HOW do we keep moving forward and building on the past? How do we make the most of the time we’ve been given? Instead of my resolutions, I’ll call them reminders, my ways to ensure 2015 is NOT just another year.
Laugh a LOT. Don’t take myself too seriously. Try new adventures. Stop procrastinating those phone calls and emails I need to make to family and friends. Don’t make excuses. Choose my battles; not every battle is worth the effort. Let it go. Refuse to waste time fretting over the small and inconsequential. Smile at everyone. Take time for a kind word. Pay attention to the world around me because it’s BEAUTIFUL! Stop to help when I’m in the right place at the right time. Go with my gut and rely on my instincts. Don’t listen to the negative or the destructive or the people who want to tear me down. Share my heart, my struggles, my wisdom. Pray more. Be open, genuine, transparent, gracious. Forgive myself when I mess up; forgive others even if they never ask. Reach out. Make new friends. Sing loudly. Remember who and what really matter. Dump the pride; stay humble. Don’t be in such a hurry. LOVE with all my heart and soul. Cling to my faith and God’s promises. Know there’s ALWAYS hope; it’s never too late.
With no guarantee of tomorrow, I will stay thankful for what I have and count my blessings in this moment. And I WILL believe with my whole heart the best is yet to come.