Fleeting Moments!

I can’t help but think back on how nervous I was on the day that I spoke to the group of seventh and eighth grade boys at Lewis F. Cole Middle School. My stomach was in knots as the boys piled into the gymnasium; each of them staring over at me, their eyes wide with intrigue. I had no idea if I’d even be able to get them to pay attention to me, much less care about anything I had to say. At that particular moment, I wasn’t feeling so confident in my ability to connect with the group of young guys. Being given the opportunity to speak to such an impressionable group, was not something I took lightly, and I did not want to disappoint. Although here I was, really struggling with how I’d make myself relatable to them, let alone manage to have any kind of an impact on them.

And yet, despite all my conjured fears, once the presentation started, they made it so easy for me, giving me their complete undivided attention while listening so intently and with the utmost respect. Many of them asked questions at the end, and some even approached me afterwords to let me know how much I’d inspired them. Even now…years later, a few still message me for guidance. This most recent message in particular however, really left me thinking…

I can assure you that the irony of this situation is not lost on me, as I think about the fact that this young boy, a picture of perfect health is turning to me, asking about happiness. One would think that such a young child already holds the key to happiness. He shouldn’t need my help. However, this is a reminder to me that even with all my challenges, I still have the ability to inspire hope through sharing my story (no matter the age). Some days it’s easy for me to lose sight of that fact. In my mind, it should be easy for a boy his age to be happy. And yet, this just goes to show that no one is immune to sadness. In reality, it’s those who seem the happiest that’s are actually in danger of being the saddest. Incredibly wise beyond his years, this young man is able to recognize that happiness is not a constant, but rather a collection of beautiful fleeting moments interwoven together over the course of our lives amidst extreme hardship and despair. Clearly his young mind has discovered that not only are the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus not real…but that instead racism, terrorism, war, famine, sickness, death, oppression, murder, crime, and poverty take their place. Discovering happiness (let alone sanity) in the middle of all of this, can be quite laborious.

Finding happiness in and of itself can be difficult. In some cases, people are even forced to find ways to create their own happiness. However, maintaining happiness is a skill that so many of us are desperate to master. Happiness, like a plant must be cultivated and nurtured. It takes hard work to be kept alive! But in doing so, obstacles may arise to try and block us from it. Every single day, I am bombarded with so many various reasons to be unhappy, which I must continually fight off. Anxious thoughts dart through my mind attempting to sink me deeper and deeper into a dark abyss of depression. “Staying happy,” has proven to be especially hard as of late, being cooped up at home with nothing to keep me company besides my troubled thoughts. I wish I could tell you that the brave and positive face you see on social media is a permanent one, when in fact most of my days are spent on a rollercoaster between highs and lows.

Life is made up of a series of peaks and valleys. Working through, and pulling yourself out of those valleys is the hardest part. Nobody’s story is perfect, nor is anyone always happy, despite how desperately they may try to make that seem. Happiness for some, is merely but an illusion that is often used to make others question their own. Some people just feel better knowing that others think they are happy, even if they really aren’t. Most people’s biggest fear is being found out that their “Facetuned” perfectly whitened smile is nothing but a façade.

As I’ve mentioned before, even the slightest negative thought can set off a chain reaction in the mind, and before you know it, you are engulfed by a sea of negativity. The key is to stop this train of thought dead in its tracks before becoming too overwhelmed. For example, there are certain realities in my life that I am helpless to. It doesn’t make any sense to worry about things that I can’t change. Yes, I’m disabled. Yes, I need 24/7 assistance to survive. Yes, I’m on dialysis. Yes, I need a ventilator to breathe. Yes, my parents are divorced and on terrible terms. Yes, I’ve been cut off from my niece and nephew by my older brother for reasons beyond my control. Yes, I’ve lost best friends to overdose and others to tragic accidents. Yes, I still struggle every day with accepting the cards that I’ve been dealt. Yes, I am currently living alone in the middle of a global pandemic, seeing family and friends through a glass window while simultaneously battling against the injustices of racism. Despite how high the wall of obstacles may be stacked against me, I know that it is detrimental to my health to remain resilient and continue to fight for my happiness. The alternative could very well be deadly. And simply put, wallowing in my own self pity would just be too easy. True warriors don’t succumb to weakness, they embrace it and use it to make them stronger!

Please know however, that is perfectly normal to feel sad, upset, overwhelmed, and frustrated…especially with everything going on in the world right now. You are entitled to your feelings. You have to let yourself feel, in order to learn, grow, and heal. We all go through our own processes at different rates, therefore it is most important not to compare yourself to others. In which case. you may find it beneficial to take a break from social media every now and again. The important thing is to be able to pick yourself back up when you need to! Instead, talk to yourself every single day and remind yourself that your spirit is in control. Remind yourself that you have faced difficult situations before, and you have managed to overcome them. Remind yourself of just how amazing you are and BELIEVE IT! Remind yourself that YOU’VE GOT THIS!

The ingredients for happiness are often right in front of our faces. We are just too clouded by negativity and judgment to see them. Over time, we realize that the things we once thought were so important aren’t, while simultaneously realizing that everything that is important, we take for granted. Time heals all, but also waits for no one. We spend a lifetime searching for love, when the greatest love of all, is the love of ourselves! We work hard everyday to acquire things that we can’t take with us to the afterlife. We idolize possessions worth monetary gain, but that really have no true value. We only express extreme love and emotion on birthdays, holidays, milestones, and at funerals. And yet death can happen to any of us, any day, causing us to miss the opportunity to tell someone how much they really mean to us!

My happiness lies in the lives of the important people around me. I believe it so necessary to nurture your relationships. Really put in the work! It’s a two way street and should never be one-sided. Make a conscious effort to operate on an equal playing field and to give as much love as you receive. Being made to feel like a priority feels incredible. Therefore; make the people you love, feel like they are a priority in your life. However. in that same regard, don’t be afraid to let go of people who don’t make you feel like you are a priority in theirs. You don’t have to hate them, but you must love yourself enough to know that you’re worth more. Communicate, but remember actions always speak louder than words.

Stop focusing on the superficial stuff. Enjoy moments, not things. Create experiences. Be spontaneous. Make memories. Realize how blessed you are to breathe without a ventilator, eat food through your mouth and not through a tube, release toxins without being hooked up to a machine, walk/run without the use of a wheelchair. Every day without so much as a cold, is a good day! Health is the ultimate wealth! Remember that, “nothing lasts forever.” Whatever it is that may be plaguing you will come to pass. Every day that you push forward, is another day closer to your goal.

Dream big. Reach for the stars. Fear of failing should not outweigh the fear of having never tried at all. Take a hold of your life, and make the most out of it! Stop living for others. Live for yourself! Take care of your body. Love the skin you’re in. Look in the mirror daily and tell yourself that you are unique, special, beautiful, and absolutely worth it! Be in love with YOURSELF! This energy is contagious and therefore, love from others and ultimately happiness will flow naturally. No one can make you feel better than you can make yourself feel!

Tell the people you care about how much they mean to you. Just because. Say I LOVE YOU MORE! I’m telling you, if you wait…it will be too late one day. Stop waiting for an excuse to show someone you care. Believe me, it can make all the difference in someone’s life. If you’re thinking about someone, tell them. If you have feelings for someone, tell them. Don’t always assume people know what you’re thinking, because I can almost guarantee that they don’t.

“The greatest thing one can do is give a genuine smile. For behind every smile lies the potential to spread happiness.” – Aiden Park

So yes, maintaining happiness is hard, but it is also possible. Every now and again you will fall into a really good emotional space. Treasure that, and hold on to it. Engage in activities that light your soul on fire, eliminating the things that don’t. Find peace within yourself. Aim to be in a place of acceptance, and most of all don’t be so hard on yourself. Life is challenging enough as it is, almost daily, for ALL OF US, and therefore it is important to embrace those precious happy fleeting moments whenever they occur!

Life is funny…so if you do nothing else in the end, at least make sure to laugh! 💙💙💙

About 1 Man, 3 Hearts

After collapsing in my NJ home one night at the age of six, due to heart failure, doctors were convinced that I would not live to see my seventh birthday. Three decades later, I have defied all the odds that were placed against me. I will be turning thirty-seven this summer. Upon discovery that I was in complete heart failure (age 6), I was rushed to the NIH research hospital in Maryland. At this time, I had an emergency dual chamber pacemaker implanted. Since then I have survived two heart transplants, a kidney transplant, gall bladder removal, lung collapse, pain medication drug overdose, and a tracheotomy. Unfortunately my transplanted kidney failed two years ago placing me back on dialysis three times per week. At the age of twenty-seven, I was diagnosed with a rare muscular disease known as Myofibrillar Myopathy. This disease progressively attacks the various muscle groups of a person’s body over time. In my case, it was discovered that this disease was also responsible for initially attacking my heart muscle at age 6. In the last two years, I have lost usage of about eighty percent of my bodily function to my illness. I am currently wheelchair bound, sleep with a ventilator every single night, and require the assistance of a full time (24/7) personal aide who resides with me. My life is full of challenges, it’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve had my share of dark moments. However, I refuse to allow this to keep me from enjoying life and living everyday to the fullest. I have gained a great deal of perspective and learned many valuable lessons over the course of my life. My goal is to be able to give back and share my story in a way that can help others who may be facing difficult circumstances and encourage them to keep fighting. I also believe it is important to raise awareness for rare diseases as well as the importance of organ donation. I have chronicled my life in a book, “1 Man, 3 Hearts, 9 Lives,” available for purchase on Amazon. I truly appreciate all your support, thank you! 💙
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6 Responses to Fleeting Moments!

  1. Jennifer Lafontant says:

    Chris , today after reading this , my comments are few. This was most powerful . You are a true warrior with the heart of a Lion . Today , as always ‘ I LOVE YOU MORE ‘ You inspire me and give me courage every day ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Alison Heffer says:

    I have said this before and I will say it again.. Your power of your story and your power of your words touches and will touch people for decades to come. Your story is told over and over by so many and you are thet rue defintition of power. You use the power of words for good and not evil. You use the power of words to life people up and not bring them down and this my friend is the biggest gift of all especially in a time when so mamy are at a loss for words. Everytime I read what you write I am one of those who is at a loss for words. #sallynowandforever

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