Someone once asked me what ability I would most want to impart to my children. The answer? "Resilience."
Having a problem or confronting a challenge should never serve as an impediment to doing those things most important in your life. From those obstacles, we learn the boundaries of our abilities, that the encumbrances we assume are often not true limitations, that we are often confined less by the "real" than the "imagined." And sometimes, those challenges give us amazing opportunities. Certainly, I would not be racing with Team Type I were it not for the fortuity of having diabetes.
Of course, this
is not the conventional image of "good fortune."
Diabetes is something of a dance. You find the right rhythm, and you move smoothly form one place to another...one day to the next...and with the peace of predictability. Miss a beat, however, and you find yourself awkwardly, sometimes frantically, trying to recover the right steps.
Diabetes requires constant attention, and there exists the heavy weight of commitment required to manage the demands of the disease. Unlike other chronic illnesses, where a physician might dole-out weekly or monthly treatments, diabetes is the responsibility of the individual. However burdensome, there is a seed of good fortune buried in that connection to the body. I am more aware of the impacts of external forces...of stress or fatigue...of food or thirst... I take better care of myself because I have this disease. I model for my children the ability to move forward and push past the things that make it harder to attain a goal, but not impossible.
None among us will walk through this life without challenge. For me, it is diabetes. For Henry, it is autism. For others, it is a cancer or an autoimmune disease of a different sort, a defect of the heart or liver, a learning disability or physical handicap, a mental illness or a personal loss. We all have reasons to quit...or to do better, go faster, work harder. To give thanks for the good fortune of disease or sadness or difficulty. The mind can frame a challenge in the context of "excuse" or in the realm of "opportunity." I hope my kids choose the latter.