By Diane M. Marty
Copyright © 2012
In retrospect, there had been some chilling clues.
I had shrugged off my personal trainer’s observation that my left arm didn't straighten completely. I had felt like an imposter in an advanced knitting class when my fingers fumbled at the familiar task of casting on stitches. And I had laughed uneasily when my spouse teased me about falling asleep in a noisy Las Vegas restaurant.
So, when a friend asked me what was wrong with my arm, my reply was ready. Maybe too ready. Probably carpel tunnel, I told her. If my new ergonomic keyboard didn’t relieve the stiffness, some physical therapy would surely cure the problem, I added with a quaking conviction.
When a doctor delivered the diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, I was shocked—and yet I wasn’t.
Life can change in the single beat of a hummingbird’s wings. And some changes are not for the better.
Sometimes, we’re left sifting through ashes of what had seemed a steady and sturdy world, the stunned look on our faces evidence of an inescapable eruption.
Now, many people who have stared down physical challenges extol the insights that came with their hardships, especially when talking to the untouched. The personal growth! The newfound liberation! The streamlined clarity!
It’s true. Contact with life’s fragile constitution resets perceptions and priorities—my own included. I won’t deny that I’ve discovered rapture embedded in the ordinary. A baby’s head resting on my shoulder. Scarlet petals bursting from tight buds in the garden. The expansive freedom of driving fast under a starry sky.
And I’ll admit that sharing time with friends and family has a heft and a force that overrules the tilting stacks of dirty dishes, the drops of red wine on white carpet or the sudden sagging of energy.
Yet, beneath this sweet shift in reality lies a bitter truth.
And that is that any one of us affected by life-altering challenges would exchange our enlightenment for the blind arrogance of an indefinite future and the blissful hubris of a healthy body.
But trading is not an option.
Instead, my choice comes down to this. Today, I am better than I'll ever be again. It’s that simple. I can spend my time contemplating the future with foreboding, or I can concentrate on the present.
I've made my decision. Every moment counts. Every day.
© 2012 Diane M. Marty
Since her diagnoses in 2005, Diane Marty has done things she never considered doing before that point—like eaten gelatin with vegetables and worn black with brown. However, she has yet to purposefully look down into a reflective surface. Diane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.