Saturday, 24 January 2015

What Do I Value About Myself

I am using one of Kate's "prompt" cards today, a question about me and my life as a prompt to write something. The card says "The thing I value most about myself is...". It's an interesting prompt, causing me to wonder about the difference between something I value about myself and something I like about myself. In the end, perhaps it is a difference of degree, or perhaps it is something of myself that brings value to others. I'm not completely sure.

There is one thing I do know for sure. The one thing in myself that I both like and value is my ability to persist. I once said to a friend that I was "as persistent as the sea." It's not just that I don't give up easily, as surely I do not. It's not just that I keep trying, trying to live, trying to love, trying to keep going. It is much more, something deeper than that.

There is a problem trying to explain this attitude of persistence. Perhaps the best I can do is say that I keep moving forward, assuming forward is the best direction in which to move. There are times when forward motion is no longer possible, so I try to find another direction that works. Nonetheless, I keep moving, keep trying to get to my destination. The funny thing is that my destination can change so much, can move without plan or intent. Life just does that.

Think of it this way. When I was 56 years old, I left my wife permanently, planning to rebuild my life here in Calgary. Not everything was bad in my old life; there were plenty of things I liked, plenty of reasons which may have made another person decide to stay. Yet I did not; I left. I had persisted in working on my marriage for many years until, at the end, I learned that I needed to change direction.

Directional change was forced on me only 10 months later, when I was diagnosed with ALS. I had already started rebuilding my life, rebuilding my career, rebuilding my relationships with my children. Now, through no fault or plan of my own, my direction had to refocus; I had to shift direction. Yet I persisted in trying to build my new life, persisted in being who I was and who I am.

Now I am persisting again, living with ALS. I just don't know how to give up on life, how to stop living. It seems to be the only thing I really do well, to keep going, to persist. I have seen others around me surrender, give up in the face of terrible odds. I choose, willfully, to persist, to keep going, to live. It's really my only choice, and it is something I value.

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