You Don’t Have To Sit on That Cactus

Most everyone has experienced a catchy song lyric that gets stuck on repeat, refusing to leave their head. What I’m about to share wasn’t musical at all yet was like that with me. Firmly stuck.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across an online post on Quora by David Wolak of Geneva, New York. Wolak was talking about how, while in the midst of traveling to Florida for the winter, he stopped to get a bite to eat. For years, he had made the annual trip with his friend, Rich, but on this occasion, he was alone, as Rich had died from pancreatic cancer that summer.

The server at the Marysville, Pennsylvania diner recognized David from previous trips. Unaccustomed to seeing him alone, she asked after his friend.

He explained that Rich had lost his battle with cancer, and then the server shared that her mother was also dealing with cancer, but that her mom had pretty much given up and had a terrible attitude.

David told her that when Rich was fighting his cancer, he had said, “I can sit in the corner, crying and feeling sorry for myself, but then God might see me and say, ‘Look at him. I gave him another day to live and what’s he doing with it? He’s spending it crying and feeling sorry for himself. Why should I bother giving him more days?’ So, I’m going to enjoy each day God gives me, and look forward to the next.”

Wow, I thought when I read that. What a wise man.

Even though I don’t have cancer and don’t know Wolak or his friend or the waitress in Marysville, PA, around and around this experience went in my head, circling back time and again. Nagging.

It was like a little kid just standing there, saying, “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom.” Until I finally stopped and said, “What?”

Why was this stranger’s short post so entrenched in my brain? And why was it reminding me of a time when my oldest niece, Tori, was little.

Tori was the most fun kid in the world to give a present. She would hug and squeal and thank profusely and then throw more thanks my way again later. I used to joke that it seemed almost strategic, as it made adults (at least her aunt) want to keep buying her gifts, yet she was completely sincere.

I thought, too, of others to whom I’ve sent gifts over the years. The ones who never bothered to even acknowledge the present, much less express gratitude. And I thought how future gifts to those people were diminished because of their disregard.

Then it clicked. I understood the reason for the nagging.

I had been exhibiting a bit of unappreciative behavior myself. Complaining about still having a surgical boot on my right foot while scheduling surgery for the left; whining about the side order of shingles added on for good measure.

About the trilogy of yellow jacket nests I discovered. The hard way.

Yeah, I’ve had a few recent knocks to the head (and stings to the tail), but so many gifts have been heaped upon me. Just the coolest things. Like Celeste and Don and Rudy.

Like that funky old warehouse in Hinton. The people we’re meeting as a result.

Like all those who took time out of their day to send ideas after my last post asking how to get back to the state we so love.

“Being negative only makes the journey more difficult,” said Christian author/speaker Joyce Meyer. “You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.”

Another gift for which I am grateful.



Karin Fuller is a newspaper columnist and short fiction writer who resides in both Atlanta, GA, and Hinton, WV.

Karin Tauscher Fuller

Karin Fuller is a newspaper columnist and short fiction writer who resides in both Atlanta, GA, and Hinton, WV.