Friday, June 15, 2012

Walking the Tightrope

I'm watching Nik Wallenda walking the tightrope across Niagara Falls as I write this.  I wasn't going to watch this stunt, but I'm finding myself inspired by his walk.

He's talking to the reporters as he walks.  He's pumping his fist, kneels for the crowd, and still is moving forward.  This is such a wild journey, and it shocks me that he is able to keep his eye on the prize with all of the distractions.  The wind, the mist, the wet wire, the crowd, the reporters...all of them could be an excuse for failure.  Instead, he's smiling and keeps moving forward until he crosses to the finish.

One of his responses to the reporters just blew me away.  When asked about the challenge, he talked about all of the people facing obstacles and how they should just focus on the accomplishment.  He didn't dwell on the obstacles, he just kept moving forward.  He just told the Canadian border officials that the purpose of his trip was to inspire the people around the world, and he did that for me.

Take your time.  Step by step.  Sounds so simple, but it wasn't simple for him.  And those with multiple sclerosis have our own tightrope to walk every day.  It's so easy to lose the concentration, lose the focus, lose the faith.  It seems so easy to just focus on the next step, but we know it's not the easiest to execute in reality.  Wind gusts and mist are replaced by fatigue and spasticity.

Wallenda cited his training, his focus, his prayers, and his family as the reasons for his success.  While we can't be trained to conquer MS, we can learn ways to adapt and ease the struggle.  We may have trouble focusing sometimes due to cognitive challenges, but we can try to train our brain and take care of ourselves so that we struggle a little less.  We may feel horribly alone, that no one can understand what we're dealing with, yet we can reach out for support from friends, loved ones, and a higher power if we believe in one.

Take your time.  Step by step.  Sounds so simple, but it's not simple for us.  We may not have chosen to walk this tightrope, but it's the only path ahead for us.

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