In a 14 minute inaugural speech that John F. Kennedy gave on January 20, 1961, he told Americans to ”ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” It was a remarkable speech that inspired the nation to see the importance of civic action and challenged every American to contribute to the public good.
I have lived most of my life living the spirit of this speech. In the past 18 months, as I’ve battled with cancer, I have found different inspiration along the way. One came in the form of a professional make-up artist, Rebecca, who lives her life with the attitude, “don’t ask why, ask why not?” I so resonate with this quote! Given my harrowing experience with cancer, I have learnt to appreciate every moment, every nanosecond of a moment. I see the fragility of life. I want to squeeze every moment so as not to waste it. And I want to live fearlessly, so there are no regrets.
What this means for me is that I am doing things I would not normally think to do. Some are small things like putting on false eyelashes for the first time (man, did I look good!) or trying new food. Some are bigger things like taking on assignments and projects that would have scared me in the past. Every day my comfort zone is expanding at a dizzying pace and I am finding it scary and exhilarating. This is living!
One of these projects was to create a film of my journey with cancer. I must admit I was on a high dose of dexamethasone (steroids) when I did it, otherwise I would probably not have attempted something so major!
I was inspired to do this movie after channel-surfing the TV and coming across Oprah’s Master Class. The idea behind Oprah’s Master Class is to get well known personalities to share their lives with others – their triumphs, their failures, their insights and the lessons they have learned. The Master Class I watched had Alicia Keyes, and I was riveted as I watched her share her life story. In that moment, I remember thinking, “I wish I could do this”, and almost simultaneously saying, “Why not?”!
I worked with a talented artist, Francis Darwin, who is related to the great Charles Darwin (yes the same Darwin who formulated the theory of evolution). The result was a 50 minute film called “Munira’s Journey”. We screened the film on Thanksgiving Day, October 14, 2013, at a movie theatre at Fairview Mall and invited family and friends to the event.
Please click on the video below to see highlights of the event, including chats with Dr. Rodger Tiedemann and Dr. Norman Franke, and a post-event Thanksgiving Brunch.
Click here to open the browser in You Tube:http://youtu.be/HDUcNwhPThA
Every week, for the next 11 weeks, I will be posting a different segment of the film and I hope you enjoy them as they are published.
In the meantime, I hope you will share your experiences with how saying “why not” is enriching your life!