If you allow something to stop you, it will. I remember a day in college, a few friends and I had decided to hike Long’s Peak in Colorado, one of the “Fourteeners” as they’re known. It’s a 16-mile round trip hike, and admittedly, the last 8 miles are by far the easiest. I remember being at the Notch, the last near-vertical ascent to the top, when I became aware of an older couple behind me. In hindsight, they were probably only in their mid 60’s, but to my young eyes, they appeared to be at least 80. There they were, laughing and joking together as they made their way past me. I think I made a comment like, “Wow, I want to be like you when I grow up!” She laughed and responded that they climb it once a year. He smiled fondly at her and said, “Why not twice this year? Shake things up a little.”
They became my inspiration. If you let something like retirement, old age, or a disease diagnosis like MS slow you down, it will. At this point in my life, I am a veteran of the US Navy, I am a mother of two young children ages 5 and 3, a wife of an active duty service member, and a young woman who recently got diagnosed with MS. What label do I want to be known by? It is my choice, and my actions will determine who I think I am, and ultimately who I become.
One choice I have made is to continue living my life. MS may slow me down sometime in the future, but I could never predict when that may be, and nor can my doctor. For now, I keep in mind the couple on the side of a mountain: a mountain that had brought a 21-year-old to her knees, and the older couple that were laughing about “shaking it up a little” and climbing it twice.
Date posted: February 2012