Now in my 14th year since Parkinson’s Disease (PD) diagnosis at age 43, life is more vibrant than ever in physical activity and meaningful social engagement, offering up moments of rewarding personal reflection. Although not diagnosed in “old” age, it seems that PD has lured me to an enjoyment, a trust, in the process of life that, ironically, might lay the foundation for a sense of peace through advancing years and into death.
My 2014 Deep Brain Stimulation surgery (DBS) set back the PD-symptoms clock a good number of years, allowing me to reconcile the harsh physical effects of pre-surgery Parkinson’s with innate happiness. At that point in my life, I needed a fierce battle to help eradicate my previous identity, wiping the slate clean of many harmful societal expectations and preconceived notions along with any unhelpful longings for the past and future. Only then was I able to start the process of developing into the person that I truly wanted to be.
My latest book, “The Lost intruder, the Search for a Missing Navy Jet,” describes in detail my pre and post-DBS surgery challenges with Parkinson’s—as well as the DBS procedure itself—and the fundamental re-writing of my identity. The story is not a reductionist laundry list of tactics for facing down PD. It is about a revitalization of individuality, of setting the initial course of character for the voyage to becoming who I want to be. As with life, the journey is not always comfortable or pain-free. Nor is it a sure thing. But the passage is well worth the effort; it might be all in life that ultimately means anything.
My personal exploration continues here. Won’t you join me?
#thelostintruder #dbssurgery #livingwithparkinsonsdisease
Over the past three months, I’ve had the opportunity to travel and speak about my experiences of self-discovery and the lost Intruder. At each venue, invariably a stranger will seek advice on how to tailor my personal lessons to their lives, to learn the secret in overcoming long-term adversity.
There is no secret, and there is no overcoming.
Trying to deny a place for life’s hardships, the inevitable setbacks and heartbreaks, clever attempts to circumvent the universe’s trials are doomed to failure. Life is hard. It is also complicated beyond science, philosophy, technology, and perhaps even religion. We will never understand all the “whats” that confront us, never mind the “whys.” But that’s okay. Acknowledging this simple insight, accepting it deeply until it courses within us with each beat of the heart, might be the closest we can come to a cure for life.
Faith is a wondrous word: the peaceful incarnation of commonality we share with our surroundings. Yes, there is unfathomable pain and hardship in the world, only some of which is within our power to alleviate. We will all die, and we will never eliminate despair, never subdue humanity’s dark side of feeling.
It is that which defines our basest nature that also allows for the best in people, that fosters the kindness in a stranger’s eyes in passing, the sharing of a moment between two terrestrial creatures striving for insight into celestial questions. Pondering the meaning of a sunset in a lighthearted, shared marvel transforms the rawness inside us, shaping it into a powerful reality with all humanity’s soulful perfections and flaws.
Perhaps it is our job to navigate these inevitable detours until arriving at a vista of loveliness, the beautiful fullness of another amid the alchemy of creative wonder.