I watched a piece on ESPN today about the Make-A-Wish Foundation's attempt to bring a smile to the face of leukemia-stricken Brendan by arranging a meet-and-greet with Landon Donovan, his favorite soccer player. Even during the short snippet on SportsCenter, Brendan's positive spirit and inspiring story were undeniable.
This little boy has every right to curl up in a ball of self pity and defeat, but instead, he's smiling. He smiled the entire time. He smiled at his doctors during the video clips of hospital stays and brutal treatments. He smiled at his parents as they choked back tears and feelings of "what if?" and "why us?". But he smiled widest when Landon Donovan handed him his sweaty, dirty game jersey after a big win in Los Angeles. It was clear from the piece, this little boy has a twinkle and a courage of which the rest of us can only dream.
I have no idea what it's like to spend my life defying the odds. I'm healthy, educated, stable and loved. I don't have any stories about overcoming unbelievable obstacles or achieving the impossible. I'm just a regular girl with a regular life, trying to make myself a little better each day.
Meet Henry. Henry is a 64 year old attorney in Philadelphia. He's been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 17 years.
I'm lucky enough to know Henry because he was part of the group we were with last week on our hike through the backcountry of Yosemite. He hiked every step, right along with us. Every time I thought I might be tired or my feet hurt, I'd look up and there was Henry. He's reached an age when many people think about slowing down. Retiring. Taking naps and taking it easy. Vacationing, sure, but the slow paced, relaxing kind.
Not Henry. He spent a week of vacation hiking 40 miles of the high Sierras, wearing a 45 pound pack and hiking boots. Periodically checking his blood sugar, but never slowing down.
We could all take a page from Henry's book.
It's always something. Something that makes us say, "Maybe tomorrow." For some of us it's health problems. Others, fear or anxiety or nervousness. But for most it's a comfort level that's become way too – comfortable.
Life is so unbelievably short. And dismissing that as cliche doesn't make it any less true. Those plans you have for "tomorrow" are tentative at best. So whether you are facing illness, physical limitations or run-of-the-mill schedule-juggling and family obligations — put the excuses in check. And get busy livin'.