As all of us move through our own levels of improving our health status, we are sure to meet others in their journeys. Some are ‘ahead’ of us, and some have not yet reached the levels that we have achieved. Woefully, we will meet those who have not even begun, or perhaps worse yet, don’t realize that they can begin.
For me, this begs the question, “are we obligated, in any way, to ‘pay it forward’”? Surely someone at sometime helped ignite the spark that sent us on our journeys. For some it was their doctor, others a family member. Movie scenes can do it, or even just waking up one day sick and tired of not being able to keep up with the kids.
Yesterday I stumbled across a video from TEDMed that spoke to this issue at the end of an interview with Lance Armstrong. Love him or hate him; I don’t really care. It isn’t debatable for me. To each their own, but I often find that he has interesting things to say regarding cancer (eff you, Cancer, by the way) patients, treatments, and recovery. The entire video is almost 25 minutes long, and can be seen here. Near the end he tells a story about leaving the hospital after his first rounds of therapy. It was on my birthday, and as he was getting ready to go, his doctor told him about the ‘obligation of the cured’
“…you can walk out that side, nobody knows you left, nobody knows you were here, you don't have to tell anybody you had this disease. or you can walk out the other side, and you tell everybody you had the disease, and you do whatever you can, as long as you live, to affect change when it comes to this disease."
For me, it doesn’t matter that I don’t have cancer or some other disease that I have conquered. What matters to me is that there are other people out there who might just need a boost, a tug, or a push (I actually typed ‘punch’. hmmm) in the direction of better health. A few months ago I found myself in a discussion with my wife during which I was complaining about how unhealthy people seem (at least in some large part) to just sit around and do nothing about their health except complain and shift blame and responsibility. The discussion was getting a little heated until she said something along the line of ‘instead of complaining yourself, BE THE PERSON who helps them. Many people probably just need a little reassurance and guidance but don’t know where to get it. Give it to them.’
I ruminated on it for a few days, and then began to do just that. Every day, in some small way, I strive to be a catalyst for change in others. Sometimes it is just leading by example, other times it involves lengthy conversations. I encourage all of us to think about how we can be that light for others. Consider for yourself if you have an obligation.
Comments encouraged and welcomed! –gene-