Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Peanuts" and Parkinson's disease

"Winning isn't everything, but losing is nothing." True? Well, partially.
It is unclear what "Peanuts" cartoonist, Charles M. Schulz, meant by the phrase he coined. But it sounds like something Charlie Brown would say as he stood on the pitcher's mound of that mythical baseball park wondering what he could do so that his team would win just one baseball game. Schroeder, Lucy, Linus and even Snoopy were losers when it came to baseball.

What is winning? When it comes to life with Parkinson's disease, how do we end up being winners? What if we cannot beat PD? Are we losers? Like many other wise statements, the words used in this cartoon-based maxim require definition.

Defining words and concepts for others is far less important than how we define them for ourselves. I have been struggling lately with the concept of "losing". As I age, accelerated most likely by my degenerative disease, I have experienced loss. Most of us, including me, resist looking at that reality. But failing to do so means we cannot learn from "losing", and I suspect that if you are like me you do not learn from winning either. Wisdom comes not so much from winning, but from losing and refusing to stop there. It comes from learning from the losses we experience.

An old English proverb states, “A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner". Those of us who are sailing the turbulent sea of Parkinson's disease have only two choices: use the lessons taught by our loss of dexterity, vitality, balance, mobility, stability and even confidence (not to mention loss of speech, smell and smile) to learn how we can pass on what we have learned; or give up, knowing that barring a miracle we cannot "win" the fight against PD.

Today, I learned from my grandson. It happened like this. Due to my right arm being weak and painful when lifting anything of any size or weight, I could not easily lift him, being the stout 18-month old toddler that he is. So rather than sweeping him into my arms for my customary bear hug as he puts his head on my shoulder, I was forced to get down to his level. This had me on my knees, looking him right in the eye. I saw him differently. We played at his level for the rest of the evening. We both sat in his little picnic table on the back deck. I draped over the edge of the bathtub has he played with his toy boat with the little men who sat in their circle, triangle or square slots on its deck. But, after a long day at the office, I was spent. But even in that loss of ability to give anymore watched him drift off to sleep while I held him having his bedtime bottle. My "loss" had become a very satisfying "win".

I have recast the "Peanuts" cartoonist’s statement: "Winning is not everything, but losing is nothing (unless you do something with it)".

1 comment:

  1. I'm sending this to my almost Korean son, who lived with us through high school. He and I were just talking thousands of miles apart of losses we have suffered in relationships that now after time we see weren't quite the loss we thought, we made pluses out of them. You put it so well in this blog. Thanks, and oh, except for 4 grandsons and 1 granddaughter in Texas, you have the cutest grandson. LOL.