Monday, December 04, 2006


This morning, like any other, I was listening to NPR as I was getting ready for work. At one point I completely stopped my routine to listen when I heard a woman say:

"I believe I always have a choice. No matter what. I have a choice."

The woman who was speaking is a writer diagnosed with ALS - most commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. She has already lost the ability to use her hands to write, and slowly she will lose more and more of her bodily functions until eventually she loses the ability to breathe on her own, and then even her life.

One of the hardest challenges for her orginally was that she was a self-declared "fiercely independent and private person". It was completely against her nature to accept help let alone ask for it.

Instead of losing her livelihood, she dug down and took a year to teach herself how to use voice recognition software. Which she said was incredibly difficult but has allowed her to continue to write. Now she writes more than she ever did.

Likewise Instead of giving up and becoming isolated and alone, she learned that relying on her friends and family was not only the worst thing in the world, but has made her life sweeter and richer.

We all succumb to helplessness once and a while. We can feel unaccomplished, lost, or like failures.

Maybe, just maybe, we can recognize where we stand is a direct result of choices we have made. And then make some new ones. I'm not saying we choose to be sick or to have bad things happen to us. But we do chose what to make of them.

At some point I chose to run the NYC Marathon. That may seem like one decision, but I had to choose many times along the way to continue on that goal. Every single Saturday morning for four months I chose to wake my sorry ass up early in the morning and do a long run. I chose a couple of hours of discomfort because it was more important to me to be a person who had conquered a marathon.

Next time I find myself complaining about something I simply need to think of Catherine Royce, the woman with courage enough to still accept that she has a choice. That she always has one.

Or if that is just too darn sappy for you, I could quote the movie Trainspotting:

”Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself.
Choose your future.
Choose life.”

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