Jairek: Yes. And in all honesty, that’s a moment that I don’t think anyone ever deserves in life to hear. I don’t think it’s fair for anyone in a white coat called a doctor to tell you that you have so many days to live, because who knows. There are modern miracles and old miracles, too. But miracles that happen that according to scientists, you’re supposed to die but the guy lives for fifty more years. Who knows what’s really going to happen?
But in that moment, it changed my whole perspective on life because I was in my 20’s. I’m a young person who’s looking at life as if I have forever to live. I’m invincible. I’ve got all the time in the world. I’m going to go do what I want.
And all of a sudden, someone tell you that you have five days left to live. It reshapes your thought process of what you now think is important.
Jack: Well, it’s huge!
Jairek: It is.
Jack: That’s the one thing that someone else can’t come and say, oh, yeah? You think that’s bad?
Jairek: It’s true. Those words coming out of someone’s mouth directed at your life makes you literally sit down and question everything.
And there are many, many people who face that type of moment of life at some stage of their life. Whether it’s older or younger. Whether it’s hearing about themselves or their child or family member. When you hear that, it shakes up your mind and body and puts you in a place of total uncertainty.
And my situation, specifically, had to do with malaria. I was living as a volunteer in Kangulumira, a rural Ugandan village. No running water. No toilets. No electricity. And I was helping out teaching organic farming techniques to refertilize and regenerate the land there, to get their farms back growing and to get their economy back growing, locally in Uganda. Just outside of Jinja. It’s about 4 ½ hours outside of Entebbe, which is the main city there.
It’s a beautiful place to live. Amazing, amazing place to be and such a happy and rich and alive culture that exists in the village. But it’s full of challenges and one of the big challenges was malaria running rampant. And I got it. And it put me on my butt.
I went to go see the doctor at that time and I remember him pulling out my blood sample and showing me I had 55,000 parasites per one red blood cell. And he said, every 8 to 10 hours, the eggs hatch. When they hatch, they destroy the cell they were in. Then they go feed on water. Immediately dehydrate your own body. And then they lay eggs in all the other cells. And he said, 8 to 10 hours later, they hatch again.
They double in size. So it goes 55,000; 110,000; 220,000. He said at the rate they’re doubling, you have about, hmm, five days.
I remember looking at the guy and being stubborn because I don’t take medication. I don’t take inoculations and vaccinations. I didn’t believe, growing up with my family, they said your body will heal itself, as long as you nurture and take care of yourself. Your body has the ability to heal and nurture itself.
So I didn’t take the medicine. I wouldn’t take the medicine. The doctor finally came in with a scare tactic and said, listen. Let me show you what’s happening. And he showed me how it was going to work. And he said, listen, if you don’t take the medicine now, you’ve got five days left. And I remember I was stubborn. I said five days till what? And he said five days till you die. And I remember hearing those words and being like AAAHH!
Jack: Most of that would seem insurmountable. One of the biggest obstacles you can face.
Jack: And there are a lot of people out there that face a lot of different obstacles that they think, wow, this is a really obstacle. But what I love is you said something in your book that you had three choices when you were faced with that. And as soon as you said these three choices, I immediately thought these three choices apply to every single obstacle that anyone could have.
Jack: And there really are three choices. So talk about those three choices that you had. And really, they’re the same three choices that everyone has. But some of them just don’t give themselves that third option.
Jairek: Yeah. And even more so, there are three choices that everyone has every day they wake up in life. And when you wake up in life, if there’s an obstacle, if there’s a challenge, even the opportunity to take life on, there really are three choices.
One, give up. Believe you have no control. Believe there’s nothing you can do about it and just give up. And just allow life to push, pull, kick, throw, do whatever it’s going to do with you and whatever happens happens. You have no control whatsoever. Just whatever.
Option two, the crossed finger method.
Jack: Which is, I think, the most popular.
Jairek: It’s what most people do. Ah, cross your fingers and hope it goes well. You know? It’s not that you’re out of control. You’re hoping a lot. You hope it turns out. You hope it goes well. You hope something good happens.
Or option three, find a reason that’s so much bigger than just you. Find a reason to live. Find a reason to fight. Find a reason to go do what you want to do and fight like hell. And find a way to make it the way you want it to be. Find a way to create the life you want, to get the results you desire and deserve. To make it happen.
And I laid there in the hospital bed. And the really hard part about being in a moment like that wasn’t necessarily that I was sick. Wasn’t necessarily that I was told I had so many days to live. It’s the thought of being alone on the other side of earth where you have no family, no friends, and no community whatsoever to support you, to nurture you, to be around, to hold your hand, to even talk to.