I wrote this three years ago and came across it again recently. For me, it is more relevant than ever and I thought it was worth posting again. I hope that you agree.
I don’t remember all the details, but the moment is forever etched in my mind.
One day I was talking with a woman. We were just getting to know one another and she began to tell me about her life. It was extraordinary and amazing. I had never met or even heard of anyone whose life was filled with so much tragedy. It was truly extraordinary.
Her parents had died in a car accident when she was young.
Her first child was born severely retarded.
Her husband died leaving her with two children to care for, both under the age of ten.
She herself was battling cancer.
I think that is a lot for any one person to have to deal with. I even told her so. Then I asked “How do you do it? How do you get out of bed every day and face the world?”
Her answer was so simple. But at that moment it struck me as profound. Four simple words that I have repeated so many times since that day we spoke and that I will never forget. “The options are limited.”
Sure. She had a choice to make and every day she chose to get out of bed and face the world. She was alive and chose to live. In spite of her problems, her past traumas, and what seemed like insurmountable odds, she wasn’t done yet. As long as there was breath in her lungs, she was going to live her life the best she could.
Am I faced with challenges? Of course. We all are. Having problems is a condition of being alive. So I say bring it on. Let me face every problem as an opportunity. Let me deal with the challenges that I face in a way that makes me feel alive. Let me always remember the strength, courage and wisdom of the woman I met who taught me that “the options are limited.”
I love being alive. After all, the options are limited.
Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Michael J. Fox is one of my heroes. This is not because he is famous or one of the world’s great actors, although he is very good. It is because he uses the power of his celebrity to do good in the world. He also maintains an extraordinary attitude while living with a chronic disease.
A few years ago he wrote a book: "Always Looking Up: The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist”. What a great book. It is about his life and more importantly about living a happy, productive and full life in spite of living with a chronic illness: Parkinson's disease.
I wrote him a letter and received a form letter in return. Silly me. He probably receives hundreds of letters every day from his fans and my letter was just like all the rest, but not to me! In it I explained that while he may be suffering from "Incurable Optimism", I was living with a condition that is far worse. You see, I have "Chronic Euphoria”. The doctors have told me that I am far too happy for my circumstances and that there is no treatment.
That is what my letter to Michael J. Fox was about. Not your typical fan mail. I would love for him to read it and, if the opportunity is made available, would love to meet him. I am hoping that somehow, someway we can get this letter to him. So I am asking for your help. If you happen to know that "McFly" guy, or knows someone who does, would you please pass my letter on to him? The letter is posted below.
LESSON: If you don't ask, you don't get.
I will let you know what happens….and thank you.
While you may be suffering from Incurable Optimism, I live with Chronic Euphoria. The doctors have told me that I am far too happy for my circumstances and there is nothing they can do.
My condition is a challenge for me. I have to wake up happy everyday and am not able to see my world as a glass that is half-full. Instead my glass is always over-flowing. I have more blessings than I can begin to count and have had to hire a new accountant to help me do that.
Next week I am seeing a cardiologist because my heart is always full. Then, I am going to the ophthalmologist because I seem to be having a problem with my perspective.
Clearly, my condition is much worse than yours……..don’t you think?
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. When I heard about your upcoming show, immediately I wanted to write to you and say “Me too”. Like you, I live with a disease, multiple sclerosis, that has greatly affected my physical abilities. Yet living with a disability has taught me about gratitude, much more than I ever could have learned in a life without incident. Again like you, these past several years have been some of the happiest years of my life.
We are not alone. I have found many people, often severely impaired by their disability, who have discovered the key to waking up happy every day of their life: GRATITUDE. That is my theory and philosophy. I imagine that yours is similar.
I also have a confession to make. You are one of my heroes. I say that because you have and continue to use the power of celebrity to do good in the world. You are a visible representation to the world of what it means to be alive, functioning and living with a disability. My goals is to increase the visibility of disability. You do that today.
I am not in the entertainment business, but have met a number of celebrities over the years. Truthfully, I am not impressed by someone because of their status. But, rather who they are as a person, who they are in the world. You, sir, are someone who impresses me. If the opportunity was made available, I would be thrilled and honored to meet you.
With warmest regards and my very best wishes,
Michael B. Gerber
Cell (213) 804-1249
www.mgerber.blogspot.com – “Perspective Is Everything”
Participate. Make a difference. Live as life that matters.