My time at Trinity Western University has, for more than 40 years, represented a major turning point, a metamorphosis, in my life. It provided an incomparable environment for me to grow and flourish. In the space of 2 years (that was all that was offered at the time, being a junior college), I learned invaluable and lifelong lessons in virtually every area of my life. Spiritually, intellectually, athletically, relationally, and in matters of leadership, through its professors, staff and my fellow students, Trinity gave me transformative encouragement which endures to this day. When its Chairman of the Board of Governors asked me to serve as the part-time, interim President of TWU during the search process for a long-term replacement, I was surprised, not being an academic or experienced in institutional leadership. But, despite that it seemed, strangely, like a challenge that I had been prepared for. Despite some questions and concerns, I felt confident that with the right support from people I could serve my alma mater, giving back out of my deep sense of gratitude.
Perhaps the biggest questions (asked by me and by others) in responding to the call were, “Will Parkinson’s impede performance? Will the role exacerbate the Parkinson’s?”. The response to both was a lawyer’s favorite answer to almost any question: “Maybe, it depends”. Can anyone truly predict how he or she will respond to the uncertainties of any challenge? So, starting July 1, 2013, with the support of my wife and the dedicated students, staff, faculty, administration and other stakeholders, I will take up the challenge with all its uncertainty.
Years ago, shortly after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I made a commitment to myself regarding how I would respond to the fact that I had a degenerative, debilitating and currently incurable neurological disease. I vowed to confront the challenges that it represented head-on, refusing to concede its dominion over me as a person while not denying its seemingly unstoppable march into new territories of my body. Perhaps, most importantly, I made a pledge to myself that I would not easily surrender when faced with opportunities to serve simply because of the disease. In fact, PD has provided an abundance of opportunities, and a depth and quality of life that I never imagined would be available.
I am often left asking myself this question: “Will you limit your challenges, or challenge your limits?”[My desire to continue “Positively Parkinson’s” on a weekly basis remains undimmed. However, my learning curve with respect to my anticipated duties at Trinity has been steep. Further, pressing my full-time law practice into halftime for up to one year is requiring additional effort. All that to say the frequency of posts on this blog may be somewhat less predictable for the next number of months.]