Life is like a stream. When it runs smoothly, all we sense is its gentle pulse, a hum. But when it hits a rock, or faces a fall, the roar can be deafening.

Sitting by the stream does not offer its full view. To see more, we need to stand, walk away, and distance ourselves. Life is to be enjoyed through all our senses. It isn’t enough to taste, smell, and touch the many good things it has to offer. One must also look at it from all sides and listen to its sounds. A time old teacher, life’s lessons can only be learned if we listen closely, think hard, and see the full view. Lately, I seem to have more time to pay attention and what I learn leaves me in awe. I remember how years ago, I used to take the best notes in class and how valuable those notes were to my classmates as we studied for exams. This series of articles are my notes from the school of life, a simple reflection on what I learn from one day to the next.

Every coin does have two sides and there are positive ways to look at a negative incident. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it would have been more normal to panic, worry, or even cry. Instead, I saw it as a gift! On the day my doctor informed me of a small lesion on my left side, I could hear a young patient sobbing in the next room. What had they told her? Her voice tore at my heart, but I could not begin to imagine the depth of her grief. How long would she live? Did she have small children? The sound of her crying made me so sad that when my own bad news came, I thought to myself, “Aren’t you lucky?”

Weeks later, when I was being prepared for surgery, they did a spinal block and suddenly an inexplicable incident occurred. I began a violent vomiting episode that made it impossible to breathe and although I had an empty stomach, the contractions could only come to a stop after they injected me with something. When I finally caught my breath, my first thought was, “Aren’t you lucky?”

The surgery went smoothly and my hospital stay was short. I am now home with severe after pain, a sore neck and fatigue. The lump is removed, but I don’t know what the biopsy of lymph nodes will show, nor do I have a clue on how involved my radiotherapy is going to be. Those matters will be dealt with in the days and weeks to come. For now, I will stay in this wonderful moment and allow myself to enjoy it. I’m tucked in a comfortable chair while my three children fuss over me: One brings takeout dinner, the other hands me a delicious cup of tea while a third offers a little lap-table to set my plate on. I look at the lovely flowers on a side table and wash down the medicine with a sip of tea. As my daughter finally sits down and announces the start of a movie we’re about to see, I sink deeper into my chair and tell myself, “Aren’t you lucky?!”

Zohreh Ghahremani

Author, speaker and painter Zohreh (Zoe) Ghahremani

Zoe is working on numerous new books, public speaking and working on paintings, living by her motto that “life is short, but the road is wide!”

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