Friday, May 20, 2011
What Motivates Me?
What motivates me? … turned into a good question. When I was younger and raising a family, taking care of them and trying to be a positive role model and good father was a key and intrinsic part of my "drivers." As the family grew up and out on their own, and married and had my blessed grandchildren (even "Satan Junior" has turned into a great kid), being a good grandparent and father-in-law, was the paradigm shift from that perspective.
But to do these things against a backdrop of national change and troubles, international issues that affect us, an economy run amuck, and in the face of the myriad of health problems that beset my wife and I, I had to look deeper for the strength and sometimes the will to keep going. God is no stranger to me, nor at this point, and I am stranger to him, I think. Though I am Jewish and my wife Catholic, faith and "God" seen from different perspectives resides with us and our families.
You have heard the phrase "that which does not kill you makes you stronger." I have found it true, so true. But I also believe in the philosophy that we are not defined but what happens to us, but what we do when things happen to us. And in these past few years we have had a lot of negative things happen to us.
Some friends think we have had far more than our "share" of bad things occur, but I don't think bad things are "shared." They are events that occur as the result of a confluence of factors, sometimes far past our control or even knowledge of them. I am also a firm believer in the laws of unintended consequences - that one act event triggers "things" that are quite unexpected, sometimes positive, sometimes not.
So as I pondered the question of "what motivates me?" and sought an answer, it struck me that I simply refuse to be defeated. I won't let life or events tear me down to the point at which I am no longer me, or simply stop being.
In 2008 I battled three types of cancer, had four cancer surgeries, the firm I worked for closed without notice (and could not pay any severance or back pay), my wife was in a horrible car accident, got laid off from her downsizing company, the economy devastated our life savings, … and that was for starters.
We also lost two family members and my closest friend for nearly 35 years who was the last person I would expect to pass on out of our core of friends. But a disease took hold of him 9 years earlier, and took its time bringing him to a quiet peace. His memorial service was filled with love, and at the repast many of us recounted his joy of life, humor, his achievements modest and great, and the challenges he had overcome in his life -- which were many, and painful. He would not be defeated in his life either.
Today, my wife and I are hand-in-hand, persevering in living our lives with dignity, albeit living it differently than from the end of 2007.
God lets me awaken to face each new day, some positive and some with their challenges, some mixed. I don't think of myself as a courageous person, but all of us living in these times and facing futures different than we had planned demonstrate a will to go on, to be, and maybe that is a form of personal courage. Or perhaps it is the demonstration of that non-defeatist attitude in me and the rest of us who will not give in or give up.
What motivates me?
Having a better tomorrow by not being defeated today.
--- Copyright © 2010 Howard Nevin