Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parkinson's Disease: Step Down, Step Up, Step Forward, Step Back?

Decisions and more decisions. Each day confronts us with a barrage of choices. Many are made by habit or subconsciously, while others are avoided and left dangling like some hapless victim of a lynching. Choosing between equally tempting alternatives, such as which dessert you wish to devour may well be difficult. But picking among various undesirable options can be painful to the point of paralysis.

Parkinson's disease, or any other life-changing occurrence, inevitably presents a series of dilemmas. We may be shocked, stopped dead in our life journey, but we cannot stand still indefinitely. Life requires that steps be taken. PD demands that they be taken with some urgency.

Step up. Step up to the plate. Step up to the challenge. Step up the pace. As someone once said, "Every once in a while, people step up. They rise above themselves." It is like the story of the old mule that fell into an abandoned well. The farmer who owned him decided it was too difficult to get him out. He decided to bury him there. He and his neighbors began shoveling dirt into the old well. The mule was braying bitterly as the dirt fell, seeming to seal his fate. Not being particularly attracted to that unhappy ending, he suddenly had an idea. As the dirt fell on him he shook it off and stepped up onto it. In time, the well was filled and the mule stepped out and walked away.

Parkinson's disease provides an opportunity to step up to meet its demands and refuse to give up. Step forward to face the fears that seem to lurk just out of sight in the future.

Step down. Step down from a position. Step down off the ladder. There is a time to step down, to step back. Recent events in Egypt have demonstrated that a failure to step down at the right time can be devastating. Stepping back may enable progress to take place. It may allow others to step up and take the reins of responsibility that we may have clutched so tightly for so long. As Lao Tzu said, "Do your work, then step back." Sometimes you can only get perspective when you step down and step back.

In life, our steps rarely seem to get easier. Even walking on level ground presents more challenges to those of us who are prone to stumble. Let us not stop taking the necessary steps towards our goals, our vision, and our unique adventure ahead. The journey goes on, and we must choose our steps wisely. Step up, step down, step forward, and step back. There is a time for taking each of them.  What step is next?

“What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.” C.S. Lewis

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