Hi, 2021. How are you? You have much to live up to. Last year, a pandemic carpet-bombed its way into our lives. As a result, it woke many people up. Families cooped up together spent more time with one another. Life in the fast lane slowed down a bit.
Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 is awful.
But isn’t awful part of life? Look at all the wars, the innocent people shot on the streets, the horrors of human trafficking, the amount of political discord in our country. I could go on and on, but I like upbeat posts, not depressing ones.
Last year was a rare moment in our lifetime because most of the world was in the same boat. The relentless media drumbeat made everyone realize that it didn’t matter who you are or where you live — COVID-19 could infiltrate your body and smack you down. It could even kill. And it definitely disrupted our living patterns.
Adversity seems to be woven into the fabric and texture of our lives these days. I’m OK with adversity. It builds character. I view obstacles the same way bodybuilders view weights: They make me stronger. And obstacles this year will not deter me from seeking that which is good and beautiful in my life.
I learned this lesson from my father. He was born in Mexico, in the early 1920s, and grew up in New York City, one of many poor immigrant kids who, like others across the country, spent their childhoods dealing with the economic woes and the aftershocks of the Great Depression.
He did not have much. But he felt rich. He was always surrounded by family. He had a blast playing stickball and other games on New York City’s streets. Crime wasn’t rampant back then, and people knew each other in the neighborhoods. Life was difficult, but simple.
He always told me he had a wonderful childhood, despite the lack of material goods.
Then came the war.
My dad was sent to the Philippines as an infantryman in World War II, which he called “a great adventure.” Despite the war’s brutality and the intense tropical weather, he survived. He was lucky, because many of his friends didn’t.
But the lessons he learned — that life is difficult, yet it teaches a lot in the process — stayed with him, and he passed those lessons on to me.
The biggest lesson was this: Life is awful, but I don’t have to be. I can be as joyful as my attitude, and as strong as my faith.
I can learn the lessons life teaches me so that it won’t smack me down, but rather offer me a path for my heart to grow larger with what is important: family, love, and the little moments that make life beautiful, such as seeing my wife smile or hearing my daughter laugh.
I share all of this because those in the Huntington’s community face many awful moments. The bodies and minds of Huntington’s patients become shattered. Families become worn down by time spent caregiving and investing emotional energy to alleviate the suffering of loved ones.
A terminal illness is awful for everyone concerned. But the single resolution I plan to focus on in the upcoming year is this: Accept all that is awful, but lift my thoughts, mind, heart, soul, and actions to that which is good and beautiful.
Like my father, I will appreciate all that life throws at me. I will care for my family. I will see glimpses of beauty poking through the sidewalk cracks of life. I will not give up hope. I will make sure my wife and daughter know that although they have Huntington’s, they are beautiful. And as a result, life is beautiful, too.
Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.
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