Saturday, November 23, 2013

Perspectives on Heroes

What a lot of people don't realize about chronic illness is it's often a sign of a medical success rather than failure. After all, we're still above ground. My disease should have killed me 11 years ago. I'm living a life a should not have been able to. And now that I've got enough pain control to allow me to enjoy that life, I, too, can finally call it #epicwinning.

Oh sure, my life is nowhere near what I thought it would be when I reached this age. Nowhere near. I was in a house yesterday that felt like where I aught to be rather than where I am, and it made me sad. But then I have to put things in perspective: I have a chronic illness. I'm a not a victim, and my life was not cut short, but it sure got close! So is it any surprise that where I though I'd be doesn't match reality? Not really. Who plans on getting deathly ill?

"Then after college I though I'd get a chronic illness, because you know, Paris in the spring just can't compare! And you're never too young to have a major surgery!"

At some point we've just gotta laugh because you realize we're doomed no matter what. It's just what flavor off doom do you want to have? Sometimes it's just gonna suck no matter what. At which time, it becomes pointless to focus on the fact that it's gonna suck. You've got to look at what else you've got.

I was playing chess with a friend of mine, and he was sure he had me beat. He had put me in check a number of times and was closing in for the kill. It was hopeless. I was trapped. There was nothing I could do. So I took a deep breath and I pulled my eyes from the conflict. There wasn't anything I could do there, but perhaps elsewhere there was something I could do to slow him down. And then I saw it. He'd left himself completely open! In that turn I was able to put him in check, and two moves later it was checkmate. I'd won! He was so surprised and upset, he started yelling in the middle of the coffeehouse! It was priceless.

Success isn't a destination far in the distance in front of you... it's what you leave behind you. It's what you're able to build up over time to reach your goal. The goal doesn't hang there in the air. It stands on everything you have built up to it. And every part of your life counts, even the parts you think don't matter. Sometimes especially the parts you think don't matter. Or the parts you're ashamed of and think you have to hide... those most often are the parts that make you awesome.

Think about it---we don't love our heroes because they had an easy path and waltzed carelessly through life, winning every battle. We love our heroes because they have fought and struggled and overcome great difficulties. We value the struggle, even if we don't like that we're going through it at the time. We appreciate hard work, our own and the work of others, because it's work. When we're struggling it's easy to get so focused on the battle we're in, we forget the other side of things. It's easy to get so lost in the doom that is approaching, that we don't look for opportunities elsewhere. But if we're lucky enough, we catch one in time to save our @$$. And that makes the best hero's story: snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

The fact that I'm sick isn't what's important. Everyone has something with which they struggle. Mine just happened to take this shape. That my life isn't what I though it should be should come as no surprise. When these kinds of things happen, of course life is turned topsy-turvy. I can't expect to have the same kind of life my peers have. But that doesn't mean my life hasn't been successful. I've been plenty successful with what I have had to deal with, and my past is my proof.

I cannot compare what I've been able to do with that of someone who hasn't had my struggles---it just isn't a fair comparison. And if you were to look at my life in full perspective, I'm a hero on a mighty quest: struggle is the name of the game. I cannot say that just because I see my doom barreling down upon me, that then means I am doomed. Victory can come from the most unexpected places, in the most unexpected ways. I haven't lost at life because I've got a chronic illness... I've won against death! That's the most we can ask of any hero.

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