August 6, 2021

What Nightbirde’s withdrawal from America’s Got Talent can Teach us about Living a Hard & Happy Life.

When I am unwell, I retreat from the world. When singer-songwriter Jane Marczewski is suffering with cancer, she inspires millions.

This week I have felt poorly. Nothing significant, just generally feeling unwell—lethargic, mild aches and pains, sick. My coping strategy is always the same—I retreat. I become quiet, withdrawn, and inward-focussed. I think my body slows my mind and reactions as it directs my energy to healing.

I have the luxury of knowing that my recovery will most likely be quick—a few days, a week perhaps—and I will be back to my usual self again. Perhaps that is why I allow myself this time and space away from the busyness of the world, so that I can reemerge ready to embrace life wholeheartedly again.

Since watching 30-year-old Jane perform as Nightbirde, I have questioned how I can react to illness in this way, yet she, her body under attack from cancer, can garner the strength to inspire millions. It almost feels selfish that when I’m not feeling 100 percent I hide, whilst she continues to offer wisdom and mindfulness which will benefit us all.

How did she find the energy to audition on America’s Got Talent (AGT)? How does my friend who is also living with cancer continue to make the most of every minute and grasp every opportunity to enjoy all the experiences life offers us?

Jane famously answered my questions on the show:

“You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

I am not going to beat myself up for meeting my own needs in the short term. I accept that by allowing myself the time to recover in the way that I need to, I will bounce back more quickly.

This is also not about comparing myself to anyone else. That is not what I was doing.

This thought process simply presented me with the realisation that when we are faced with unfortunate ongoing circumstances, or a long-term illness, we need to find a way to meet all of our needs, beyond the basics of healing. We must continue to live in order to thrive.

On “Ameri-can on CNN,” Jane said:

“Everybody’s afraid to be happy sometimes, because life is really really hard, and there’s a lot of reasons to be afraid. But there’s also a lot of reasons to be thankful.”

“We don’t have to pick one. We don’t have to pick life is hard or life is beautiful. Life is beautiful and hard at the same time, and that’s when we’re fully alive, is when we can hold both.”

“You don’t deny the pain of today, but don’t deny the hope of the future. Both are real and you take it minute by minute. Life doesn’t really get easier, it really doesn’t.”

“I always believed that impossible things could happen.”

“You’ve got to believe in impossible things.”

I believe that sharing her mindfulness with us must have been cathartic.

On “Frontrowliveent” she states:

“I try to keep my mindset on others. I’m not here to impress anybody. Instead, let me change my mindset and think: I’m here to give a gift to people. I want to help people with this. And when you put the focus on to other people and what you can offer to them it takes so much pressure off yourself, because you’re not in it to get something back.”

She shared a little of her mindset on “NBC4i.com:”

“If something so impossibly catastrophic and unimaginably awful can happen, then doesn’t it also mean that something impossibly beautiful and impossibly redemptive can happen?”

“The tiniest little spark can make a difference in somebody’s darkness.”

On “Access” she said:

“It’s easy to put your identity in to one thing, like oh, I’m a cancer survivor, or I’m an artist…”

She went on to describe the many “things” she is, then continued:

“The person that I want to be is somebody that can embrace every part of life as beautiful. I do embrace all the cancer stuff and all of the hard stuff, but I also like really lean in to joy. Just because life is really hard and really painful doesn’t mean that it’s not also really beautiful. Just because someone leaves you doesn’t mean that love’s not real.”

“Joy and pain exist at the exact same time. It’s not like, everything sucks and love isn’t real and everything you love is going to die and go away, or the opposite.”

“Even in the midst of such a bad time, there’re so many gifts in the world that we didn’t even ask for.”

“We can choose to focus on whatever we want and we will find whatever we’re looking for.”

Personally, I intend to make the best of every day that I am offered in this life. When I’m feeling under the weather, I will try not to focus on being poorly and instead notice everything that still offers me enjoyment during those times.

This may be the most powerful lesson that we can learn from Jane:

“My life isn’t something that’s going to happen to me in the future. My life is happening now. My life is today. I’m not going to wait for the right time. I’m not going to wait for the right time to be grateful or to be happy, or wait until it feels safer, because life is always hard, life always hurts, like always, and we don’t have control over that. But we do have some power with the way that we step in to that.”

I’m sure that I’m not alone in wishing Jane Marczewski many more opportunities to enjoy life and the gift of time, which she needs to heal. Feel well soon, Nightbirde.

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