“We have no right to ask when sorrow comes, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ unless we ask the same question for every moment of happiness that comes our way.” ~Author Unknown
As if embarking on a Heroic Quest isn’t daunting enough, on top of all of the usual obligations associated with conventional urban modernity, this week my Wife and I have been dealing with a mystery illness in our family. My oldest daughter (call her “E”) was diagnosed with a rare blood clotting disorder last summer. After a few weeks of solitary confinement (for her own protection), her platelet levels magically improved and we moved on with our lives, assuming that it was an acute case.
This past week, her platelet levels dropped to alarmingly low levels again. This seems to be a pattern with us over the past few years. Every time we seem to have a short stretch of normalcy, life throws us a Curve Ball. Not just any Curve, but a drop-off-the-table, Burt Blyleven-style, Uncle Charlie from Port Arthur bender that starts its trajectory coming straight at your face, then breaks suddenly, catches the corner of the plate and turns your knees to Jell-O. I have already outed myself as a Sci-fi nerd, I may as well also come out the Baseball nerd closet.
In eight years together, Rachel and I have lived a lot of life, putting on a lot of mileage in a short time. We were married, had three beautiful daughters, moved twice, bought a house, changed jobs a few times each, lost three parents (with the fourth suffering a massive stroke and landing, wheelchair-bound, in a nursing home), battled Rachel’s daily debilitating migraines for four years, while she pursued her Masters, had a premature baby with serious pregnancy complications, and dealt with E’s shadowy, potentially dangerous illness.
I’m not complaining. Everyone gets their share of misery in this life. And many people, even people we know, people we love, are dealing with far worse circumstances. However, it’s no surprise that all of these events are top ten finalists on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. And a child with medical problems is about the scariest thing I can think of. Scarier than any Giant or Dragon a Hero has ever faced.
And yet, I am happier than I have ever been. Before I met Rachel, I had no skin in the game. I took no chances, had nothing invested; life was easy, because my Ambitions were few, and my only Quest was transitory pleasures, living day to day. I didn’t Love then like I Love now.
I went out of my way to avoid obstacles. I didn’t know how to get through them.
If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. ~Frank A. Clark
I have struggled the last couple of weeks as I tried to complete my drafts for upcoming screenwriting contests. I was using E’s illness as an excuse. As an obstacle. Writing is a luxury, I have bigger priorities.
But, I learned something watching E’s response to her illness. Imagine telling a six year old human turbine, an ADHD poster child with pure Kinetic Energy coursing through her veins, that she would have to sit out recess, and gym, and baton, and running or jumping or spelunking or cliff diving of any kind. She was understandably upset. But she is Indomitable, a Force of Nature, and will not be caged. E hatches Plots, formulates Rescue Plans, maps out Escape Routes, has Agendas for days. She refocused all of her twisting and squirming and bashing into founding new Companies, starting a new gourmet Restaurant in our home, creating several Masterpieces in various mediums. She transformed her Obstacle into a Trampoline, a Catapult.
I am in awe of her. I want to be just like her. If we could only get her to keep her finger out of her nose.
We can’t let obstacles stop us from living, from Attempting, from Questing, from Conquering. I want to show my daughters that Anything is Possible for those who persevere. And for those who learn to hit the Curve Ball, because Life will try to sneak it past you when you least expect it.
Fortunately, we have been in the batting cage for the past few years, working on our stroke, getting our timing down, so that next time, we won’t get caught looking. We’re going yard.