I’ll never forget the physical strength of my mother. She would care for elderly people in our home for many years. She is a slight women but was, in her day, incredibly strong. I would watch her reposition large, bed-ridden men by herself and only after having gone into nursing, did I appreciate the strength she possessed.
In the twilight years of his life, my father faced heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s. While I watched him struggle, even suffer, under the burden of these diseases, I witnessed a man of profound courage.
Malcolm Gladwell in his book David and Goliath says that no one just has courage but rather it is something that is learned. We learn courage after we face harsh challenges and discover that we can survive. He used as his analogy the bombing of London in World War II. Individuals all but lost their fear of dying after surviving the massive bombardments of the German air force day after day. The panic, the fear, the scrambling for shelter would dissipate in those who continually survived. They often came to simply believe they could and would survive.
There is an old adage that says; ‘Everything you ever really need to know you learned in kindergarten’. I was reminded of this on leg three of The Amazing Race Canada. Tim Jr. and I had come in last and would normally have been eliminated from the show; however, this was a non-elimination leg and we were saved. What came to mind was my teachers admonition of ‘Timmy, just do your best’. My best. If you had the opportunity to watch The Amazing Race Canada you know that our best was never very pretty.
Strength. Courage. My best. Parkinson’s. Seemingly disparate, disconnected words.
We too often speak of what we cannot do, what PD has taken. We too seldom speak of the strength of those who choose to live; the courage of those who suffer yet survive.
I have come to understand that when it comes to Parkinson’s it’s not about winning all the time. I know that many of us with PD get up many mornings and feel like we have lost, that we have been robbed of some function, some ability. However, it is about having the Strength to get up and do our best. It’s about having the Courage to be content with what our best produces. We can almost always do more than we think we can. Life so often shocks us as to where our best can take us.
It’s a paradox for me to completely understand what my best looks like when PD has so fundamentally altered what my best can be. Yet I am confident that here in lies our success with this disease. The strength to accept what my best is, today, and then to simply give my best, and to be content with what my best produces. As counter intuitive as this is to my desire to focus on what I’ve lost, I have found that there is real peace to be had here. There is an acceptance of what my reality is now along with a continual push to find the outer limits of my best.
A day comes, after the panic, the fear and the scrambling for answers, when we realize I can do this, I can survive. Moreover, I will survive, I will get up today, live my best and thrive.
It’s a new year, a time to turn a new page. A time to choose to live your best with the strength to give your best and the courage to be content with what your best produces.
Strength & Courage
WANT TO BE INSPIRED?
I would like to introduce you to a gentleman who lives the kind of Strength and Courage we are talking about this month; his name is Dan Mcguire. You can read a blog I did about Dan HERE and see Dan’s Facebook page HERE.
**This Blog was originally shared on Northwest Parkinson Foundation