CHARLOTTE, NC: Today is a milestone for me because it marks my 100th column about ALS since being diagnosed with the condition. Though ALS is not something anyone desires to deal with, like almost anything else, there are mixed blessings hidden within the daily rituals of overcoming the on-going adjustments the ailment presents.
Most people go about their lives with little thought about what the future may bring in the way of health issues. Perhaps the great musician John Lennon summarized it best when he said,
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
ALS patients, on the other hand, realize they are fighting a battle against time where the disease is undefeated. Consequently, for most people living with ALS, there is the awareness that whatever the number of days they have left, there is still time to embrace the goodness of life and to let others know how much they mean to you.
In its own way, that’s a subliminal blessing most people relish but rarely take the time to seize.
ALS is an unfair war because, for now at least, the enemy is always going to win.
Upon reflection, there were three things in my professional career that I never lost the thrill of doing; leading off a baseball game, access credentials to the press box and waking up in another country.
As a lead-off hitter, I was the person my teammates would come to for the initial appraisal of what a pitcher was throwing. I quickly learned that the worst thing I could say was, “This guy’s got nothing. Go up there and rip.”
It was a surefire guarantee there was a shutout looming on our side of the scoreboard.
The thrill came in getting on first or second and stealing a base to set the game in motion. Even if it was only a base on balls or an error, I felt as though I had started things off on a positive note.
Press Credentials: A privilege if you earn it
As for credentials, it was the press box that carried the allure. Sportswriters are kings. They are spoon fed statistics, the room is large and air-conditioned and there’s unlimited free food. What could be better?
Locker rooms were another matter. Over the years I came to understand that post-game interviews never change. The faces change, but the answers never do.
If you don’t believe it, just listen to the mindless halftime interviews at a basketball or football game or the between-inning comments from a manager at a baseball game. The responses are always the same and, yet, they continue to do them game after game after game.
Give me the press box every time and I’ll write a great story with a mouth full of food using statistics and quotes I have been provided without ever having to watch the game.
Point my ship toward the horizon
Then there is travel. Julie Andrews’ Sound of Music song “My Favorite Things” says it all.
Travel has become the greatest single aspect of my life. So much influence does travel have on me, that I have even come to understand how certain times of day affect my attitude. I adore the serene, soothing freshness of a new day.
Barbara Grizzuti Harrison described an Italian dawn as arriving “with theatrical brush strokes.”
For me early morning has, indeed, become a time of renewal. I cherish those precious golden moments when the veil of night lifts to reveal the dewiness of daybreak.
When the world is cleansed with coolness and moisture that beckons through a scrim of earth-clinging clouds; whispers in flowers and trees, gently nourishing them in clear, tiny droplets of life, caressing them in a misty shroud.
That time of day when a peach-colored sun is little more than a formless shape in the sky, innocent and subdued, dispersing gradations of light across the horizon.
When birds are nothing more than hushed silhouettes with wings, made all the more distinct by the backlit palette of a delicate pastel sky; a sky that will swiftly yield to the frantic energy of commerce and enterprise.
Morning is that fleeting portion of the day when tranquility prevails with muffled sounds that introduce a sunrise, all unified into a single uplifting serenade. Daybreak is a symphony for my soul.
Giving up the light
On the other hand, late afternoon has always had a death-like sensation for me. Cary Grant expressed it best in one of his films with the line,
“Days die like people die, fighting for every ray of light before giving up to the darkness.”
For some reason Grant’s description is an accurate summation of my own feelings about that time of the day.
Yet, as with those fleeting precious moments of daybreak when light overcomes darkness, the cloak of nightfall quickly erases those tired, fading moments of day’s end. Out of the twilight emerges new traffic of life, twinkling stars and ebony seas streaked with lively gay colors. The night brings new sounds – the cacophonous din of music, pubs, restaurants, and laughter amid the indistinct chatter of myriad voices permeating the surroundings.
It’s a pleasant, assuring ambience filled with the promise that the cycle will repeat itself and soon dawn will once again emerge victoriously.
There’s nothing pleasant about ALS, but it does allow time for reflection, and all things considered there are far more positives in life for most of us than negatives. Take time to embrace them and you will be richly rewarded.
Here’s hoping that in the coming months, I will have a chance to share another 100 articles.
In the meantime,
“May you kiss each day goodbye…softly.”
Publisher’s Note: I met Bob Taylor at the bottom of a Mayan pyramid in Belize. We watched travelers far younger scamper up the sides, under the blazing sun. We sat, enjoyed the shade, the beauty of the place we were in and formed a friendship. Bob Taylor is, without a doubt, one of the most talented wordsmiths I have had the pleasure of working with. He is someone I consider a friend and that I have grown to love through his words and outlook. He has lived a life with a depth of experience and understanding that most of us will never acheive.
Congratulation Bob. Here is to the next 100 columns… and more.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is the founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime
Editors Note: Support Bob’s GoFundMe to give him a hand up
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