The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

June 15, 2013

It’s not what happens that matters; it’s what we do with what happens to us

Keeping the faith


— Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Oct. 9, 2002. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

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A couple of stories I heard this weekend reminded me again of the importance of attitude.

It seems a fellow named Mike maintained such a positive attitude all the time his friends couldn’t believe this friendly, pleasant young man ever had a bad day.

“Oh, I have them, all right, but I decide how the events will go. It doesn’t matter what happens to us; it’s what we do with what happens to us that makes it a good or bad experience,” Mike said.

Anytime anyone asked how Mike was doing, the answer was always the same, “Great. If I were any better, I’d be twins.”

“How can you always say that,” a friend asked. “There are some situations that are just so tragic, there’s no way to see any good in them.”

“You’re wrong,” Mike said. “Every situation  — no matter how serious or hard to understand  — carries a lesson about life, and if you look closely enough, you will find that lesson and it will serve you well somewhere down the road. Life is all about choices. We choose how people will affect us, and we choose how circumstances will change us  — either for the good or for the worst.”

A few years later that same friend met Mike and, when he inquired how he was doing, got the same chirping reply, “Great. If I were any better, I’d be twins.”

Noticing some scars on Mike’s temple and an obvious change in the shape of his head, the friend tactfully asked what had happened.

“Well, I got shot,” Mike said without batting an eyelash.

“That’s terrible,” the friend said. “Now, you can’t tell me there was something positive about that.”

“Oh, yes, there was,” Mike quickly replied. “ When I got into the operating room, it looked like a morgue. I saw the faces of the nurses and doctors, and they looked like they didn’t have a prayer for me. They asked me if I were allergic to anything. I could barely speak, but I rasped, ‘yes, I’m allergic to bullets.’ Well, you should have seen the change. They came to life and started working on me like they expected me to live.”

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Orville Kelly was told two years ago he had terminal cancer. He and his wife went home to cry and prepare for his death. Should they keep it a secret? They prayed. The answer was that they should play about it, so they decided to give a big party. They invited all their friends. During the festivities, Orville held up his hand to make an announcement: “You may have wondered why I called you all together. This is a cancer party. I have been told I have terminal cancer. Then my wife and I realized we are all terminal. We are all going to die sometime. We decided to start a new organization called M.T.C.  Make Today Count. You are the charter members.”

Since that time, the organization has grown across the country. Orville has been too busy to die, pointing out the way we are to approach death  singing, loving, taking joy in the moment and investing each day in every part of our lives and into the lives of others.