Friday, September 26, 2008

Thought for Friday....

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Sir Matthew James Barrie

My dad is an engineer, but more importantly, he is a mountaineer. The picture above is of him climbing the rope he hangs in the welding shop most days to do some lunchtime training. When there are mountains to climb, one must constantly train! He even took a hanging gym with us on our Washington trip this summer...rope and rings and who knows what else that he hung from the tree at our rental house. When he climbs the rope he uses only upper body legs to shimmy or support or climb or hold. That alone is impressive (I can barely hang on it like a wet rag), but my dad is almost 60 and he's been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

At his worst two years ago, when the doctors were trying to figure out what was wrong, he could barely open his car door with one hand. Walking from his car to work (about 100 yds) took 20 minutes. Getting into the car and buckling up required a rest. Showering required a rest. Everything required a rest. I look at him now and am in awe of how he pushes himself, how he fights to be able to do the things that matter most to him, how he struggles to beat, no obliterate, the odds. He talks about the pictures of himself he plans to send to his rheumatologist...tops of mountains, in handstands, in handstands on the rings. His rheumatologist has never had a patient like this!

While I am amazed that his strength and abilities are greater than almost everyone out at the plant (from 18 to 65 and completely healthy) or even everyone I know, they are still dramatically less than what they once were and what he hopes them to be. He works to keep his vision as a powerful climber strong. He battles for the strength he once had, the strength he needs, fighting to restore his ability for the one thing he loves more than anything in the world (except his daughters, of course!)...being on the mountain.

First time back on the ice, Dec. 2007

Some of the battles we fight are obvious to others. Everyone in the office knew my dad was fighting something awful when he was really sick, but I don't know if they realize how hard he fights now. They know my dad is a warrior just from talking to him, but do they have any clue about his daily physical and mental battle ? Do they see how hard he is fighting every single day?

I think all of us at different times in our lives have battles like this raging. Things that weigh on us everyday or pop up and pull the rug out from us from time to time. When I first read the quote above on my cousin's blog (thanks JJ!), I was having a particularly hard day in a struggle that only some people knew about. It was weighing on me, making focusing on work and doing my day-to-day things difficult, yet those around me had no idea what was going on. They couldn't see me fighting for the emotional equivalent of getting one more rep out on the rope. I thought about how often our personal lives, our fears, our insecurities, our losses affect us deeply and then we go to work or church or rehearsal or out to dinner, and life demands that we carry on as usual. While I am not a fan of denying what you're going through, sometimes the battles are internal and private, fought personally, but hopefully with the encouragement and love of a few close supporters.

Dad leading a climb in January of this year! Rock it, Dad!

Today, the pictures of my dad are a reminder that there is progress possible. The things we love can be within our reach. The struggle can give us back the things we need most. But also, sometimes it continues to be a struggle. Sometimes it aches....everywhere! Sometimes we fight internally where few people see. Sometimes the successes are small and the workouts long.

Be kind, please. Be encouraging as we all struggle and learn and progress and succeed! I know the kindness of others has sustained me at times when I was bottoming out. I hope all of our daily inside battles ultimately lead us back outside and to the things we love. Thanks for the reminder, Dad! Hope there is a wonderful ice season ahead of you this year! I love you!


May! said...

Beautiful and magnificent salute to an obviously formidable man.

Thanks for that.

Alisha said...

We draw strength from each other. I believe that that is why we have families. There is no way to experience all that we must in this short time with out those close to us. We experience life's struggles vicariously through them. And we grow from them also. Our greatest gift is the ability to love and have compassion. They key is knowing when someone is struggling and we can lend a hand of support or encouragement. No matter what trial we face we have our families (and fictive kin) to see us through.

I am so happy to see uncle Craig doing what he loves most. He looks so strong on that mountain! A bit metaphoric don't you think. He physically/mentally climbs mountains just to get to the mountains top! Very Cool!

Buffie H said...

Thanks for that inspiring nudge, that poke with a sharp stick that I needed. Think it's time for me to start moving forward and break free from the struggles that are weighing me down. Good luck to him, may there be many mountains in his path to conquer.