In his book, The Positive Principle Today, writer Norman Vincent Peale recounts the story of Orville Kelly, a newspaperman from Iowa, who went to the hospital at the age of 43 for an examination and was told he had terminal cancer. Of course, he was stunned by this devastating news, as was his wife, Wanda. After further hospital tests, the doctors told Orville Kelly that he had from six months to three years to live.
Friends avoided discussing the matter with Orville and Wanda, simply advising them, “Don’t think about it,” and then quickly changing the subject. Communication almost stopped. Wanda wanted to say something positive and hopeful; and Orville wanted to reassure her. But they couldn’t find the words; so they remained silent.
Orville Kelly was put on a program of chemotherapy, and the long drive to and from the hospital was a painful, silent journey.
Finally, one day Orville said, “Let’s talk about it…..I’m going to die from cancer…..but I’m not dead yet. So let’s start enjoying life again.” A short time later, a fresh, new, and exciting idea came to Orville Kelly; and he said, “Each day I will accept not as another day closer to death, but as another day of life. I accept each day as a gift from God to be appreciated, enjoyed, and lived to its fullest.”
And he decided to form a new program called “M.T.C.” – “Make Today Count!” After all, Orville said, “We are all ‘terminal’ in a sense. Orville Kelly chose to see every day as a special and gracious gift from God. And that is precisely what he went on to do. Though sentenced to death by a terminal illness, Orville Kelly actually became more alive by making each day count.
Have you ever been so overwhelmed by your feelings that instead of leaning into what you felt you tried to shut it down? Rather than confront a situation, you tried to sweep it under the nearest rug? Instead of accepting the frailty of life and the mortality of those we love, we choose to pretend that we will all live forever and there’s going to be enough time when…because right now we’re busy: building a business, taking care of the children, struggling at work…
“You have no idea how chaotic my life is right now” we offer as a blanket excuse for why we have not been more engaged, connected more, visited more – stopped long enough to smell the damn roses!
Let’s pledge to make today count. Make it count for something. Slow down. Smile. Touch. Smell. Observe. Help.
Orville is right – we’re all ‘terminal’ except we don’t know when we’ll reach our ‘terminus’ – so let’s look at today as a wonderful gift of opportunity – of possibility.
Let’s leave our mark on today – let’s MAKE IT COUNT for SOMETHING!
One response to “Make Today Count”
Orville’s cancer was caused by his being deliberately exposed to nuclear fallout by the military. He was forced to this dangerous exposure about a decade after the US blew up HIroshima with the first atomic bomb attack. The military understood very well the danger they were exposing these soldiers to.
The officers and researchers wore protective equipment, but enlisted men–Kelly was a sergeant–were forced to watch nuclear blasts without any protection. Orville also started NAAV–National Association of Atomic Veterans which waged a long and hard fight to obtain disability and survivor benefits for these deliberately exposed veterans and their families.