‘Why it means so much to me to be alive’

I was incredibly moved yesterday.

It started off as one of those mornings where you wake up snapping your fingers and dancing to a tune in your head. Not once did it cross my mind that just two hours later I would be holding my head in my hands, sobbing.

I’ll explain.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across TEDxEuston talk videos on YouTube and I am becoming consciously addicted.

TED is a non-profit foundation devoted to ideas worth spreading. It brings together amazing and talented people from all walks of life and gives them a platform to tell their story.

I find the talks inspiring and when it comes to all things inspiration; be it words, people, journeys and stories, my brain is like a natural sponge. That’s my wannabe turf; my ideal environment.

And so my TED dose of the week was Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma’s moving story.

If you haven’t heard of Winnie, she is one of the first women who publicly declared her HIV status.

Winnie has HIV. And she’s had it for 23 years.

Her story seems surreal – full of sadness, loss, pain, lost dreams and that beautiful thing called hope. I was dumbfounded and I couldn’t help but hurt for her on a very deep level.

If you’re like me, you’ve obviously given a thought or two to HIV/AIDS. As humans, it’s hard for us to think concretely about things that don’t affect us. And with this limitation we find empathising with others challenging.

But I often wonder if we really try…if it is something we do with all of our heart.

I was sobbing because I was witnessing a life that is bruised and bearing life-long consequences but at the same time exhibiting passion and dedication that puts us able-bodied, healthy people to shame.

I was reminded of my aunt who also has HIV. I have seen firsthand what the virus can do to people’s bodies and lives. And I also know the incredible stigma attached to it; how easily we judge and instantly think of promiscuity whenever the disease is mentioned.

Sitting there, listening to Winnie’s story I was impressed by her deep appreciation and gratitude for life. Because she had come so close to death, she said it meant so much to her to be alive.

Does it mean so much to me to be alive? Does it to you?

As I made my bed this morning I paused and pondered the question.

No matter who we are, where we’re from or what our circumstances are, life is never guaranteed. It is a gift.

Every day we have the privilege to be fabulous at what we are and do, whether it’s smiling, making the bed or empathising.

It means so much to me to be alive because I can see the beauty of what I am becoming as I grow day by day.

It means so much to me to be alive because of where my life comes from. I have contact with God – the most inspired and inspiring Being in the whole universe.

What a priceless gift life is!

I hope that you can take time once in a while to deeply consider the depth and value of your life. I know sometimes this is hard because of everything that happens to us and around us. It’s easy to forget that we are not owed life.

It’s easy to take it for granted. And this is something we have to be conscious of.

So, I ask you again – Does it mean so much to you to be alive?

And as you think about that question, please spare a thought for Winnie and for all those whose bodies are marred by pain and disease.

Empathise.

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