If Parkinson’s disease teaches us anything it is the virtue of patience, the beauty of compassion, and the ever-present outpouring of sympathy for those who are less caring than ourselves. This is not said or thought out of any pretention but of years of strict observance. Life, if you let it, allows us to become obsessed with trappings and incidentals, losing sight of the big picture. There are those who are too encumbered in their own egos to make the necessary changes in their lives to realize that not everything is about them. To the uninitiated, Parkinson’s disease appears to be but a curse when in reality this illness opens a window that for many of us was never there prior to being ill.
The Parkinson’s patient sees with different eyes, more sensitive eyes. An enhanced perspective is gained when forced to dissect one’s past and speculate even more so on the future. No future is certain whether the individual is healthy or not. One may succumb to a host of unforeseen and unpredictable encounters that are or may be beyond our control. In reality, there is no true control and the future is but a hopeful myth. The present is what you make it –within reason. Beware of the unexpected roadblocks and pitfalls of our Candy Land childhood. There isn’t always a prize at the bottom of the cereal box but sometimes that just may be the prize itself. Rewards are a bonus without a guarantee. When one feels owed there is likely a chance for upheaval and discontent. Often, our expectations set us up for disappointment thus throwing our mental and physical balance out of whack.
More often than not, I hear people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease express how he or she worked for so many years and had planned out the golden years and now felt cheated out of retirement and the plans that they had made with their spouse, children, or others. Planning and dreaming can be wonderful fun but when reality and the potential and unexpected pitfalls of life step in, detours must be made. This is the reality of flexibility that comes with Parkinson’s and any other major life-changing illness.
All that any human can truly hope for is to make a positive and lasting impact. Great thinkers and true visionaries have proven that the unconventional manner of thought often leads to innovation, and through innovation ultimately comes change. I don’t know where the innovation will come from and I can’t say when it will come about, but I do know that a greater understanding of those with and without illness need far more leniency, acceptance, and credibility.The road taken by those with illness is a journey far more challenging and sometimes more enlightening than that of the unchallenged life.