Saturday, April 1, 2017

Return to Jacksonville

I am back in Jacksonville, Florida for the first time since riding my motorcycle from coast-to-coast (San Diego to Jacksonville) in less than 50 consecutive hours.  It is April Fool's Day.  It seemed fitting.  I was invited by Dr. Oguh to be the keynote speaker for the Parkinson's Disease Symposium hosted by the University of Florida. The topic was "So You Have Parkinson's, Now What?"  Folks here were warm and welcoming, and seemed ready and willing to see life with PD as an adventure driven by passion.  This was a portion of my talk.

Do you live life with a passive purpose? Or are you prepared to commit to a passionate purpose?

Choosing to live life with a passionate purpose is rarely easy. I am reminded of the saying: The outer strength of a person is determined by how difficult it is to knock him or her down. The inner strength of that person is evidenced by how that person gets up again”. Of course, we will fail from time to time, or even most of the time. But failure is a remarkable teacher. And failure is wasted if we do not choose to use it, to learn from it, rather than denying, ignoring or blaming. Suffering, pain and loss are inevitable. But we get to choose:
Will it be the pain of trying and failing, or the pain of failing to try?

Choosing a positive attitude, risking hope and committing to a passionate purpose each constitute a major challenge for those of us with PD. Some of us are tempted to give up before we start. Others turn back when the road gets rough or the weather gets bad. How do we respond when promises of a cure seem continually 5 to 10 years away?  How do we find our way forward?

The answer to these questions is “it’s up to you”. One step at a time. The difference is daily.  Each day we can start thinking about the fact that we are making an investment of a very valuable commodity; 24 hours.  Time is the ultimate nonrenewable resource. Failure to invest it guarantees there will be no return, only hopelessness. 

Let me ask you to pause right now. No matter what your circumstances, your age, the degree to which the disease has disabled normal functioning, you can make a decision. You can choose a passionate purpose for your life. It is a reason to get out of bed in the morning, to be disciplined when facing the demands of the day, and a reason to be satisfied when crawling into bed at the end of the day. Purpose yields hope and it is hope upon which positive attitude is grounded.

My daily challenge, my commitment is found in three words. Engage. Encourage. Inspire. These words constitute a high calling. 

Engage. We must engage others, risk rejection, hurt and disappointment.

Encourage. We must encourage others whenever we can: literally, this word means to put heart into someone.

Inspire. We must inspire others. This word comes from the Latin meaning to breathe into. This gives others hope and purpose, inspiration.

Engage. Encourage. Inspire. These words are a call to action, a call to attitude. Can we do that? Can we chose a positive attitude, to get better rather than bitter?  I believe we can.