Thursday, September 11, 2008

You, Defined.


The picture above is a topographic image of Highway 97 in British Columbia, Canada; specifically the stretch between Kelowna and Vernon. This 52km stretch of road has piqued my interest as of late, ever since my wife and I watched an epidsode of "X-Weighted". In it, a woman weighing 234 lbs decided she would commit to exercise and a healthier diet en route to her goal of losing 50 pounds in 6 months (which she acheived exactly to the pound). What was more impressive was this dedicated mom of a 15 year old handicapped girl decided to summate her journey by working towards a goal of riding her bike the 52 hilly km towing her daughter on a chair attached to her hybrid bike.

As may be expected, she went through all the classic signs and symptoms of challenge, adversity, and then victory in any meaningful life challenge. From self doubt she emerged full of self worth, and declared in that instant she was worthy...
- the unemployed mom decided she had marketable skills employers wanted
- the sweatsuit wearing old mom changed into a dress wearing diva
- in short, she came into her own and decided to own her life.

It got me to thinking of life-defining or life-altering changes... moments that will stick with you as though they happened yesterday that forever alter the course of your life's direction. A few jump out from my life;
- the first time I put on football pads
- the confident feeling I had after I got up the guts to ask a girl out 3 years later
- moving to Vancouver and meeting the great people I did
- coming back to Calgary and diving in 100% to what I was doing instead of the fear of chasing my own path while still trying to please others and hold a million roles and a hundred friends intact.

What was interesting after I compared the 2 stories was that all the moments above had the common thread of CHOICE. Some impactful moments that did not alter the course of my life in any profound way were;
- 2 weeks in traction after nearly breaking my neck in football
- getting my heart broken
- addiction in the family
- not being the smartest kid in school, toughest player on the filed, or best looking guy around

What these stories had in common was that I had little choice in their outcome. Just as the mom in the aforementioned story of victory did not define her life by her daughter's disability, not having a job, or being overweight... she defined it by acting on the motivation to change, and by being a great mom despite challengin circumstances.

Shit happens. It's not if, it's when, and how much. This is a fact that is not up for debate. Having said that, what is up for debate, is the quality of life you will forge for yourself based on the tools you have available to yourself (which are far more plentiful than you can imagine).

If an unemployed 234 lb mother of a disabled child can generate the willpower, dedication, time, energy and consistency to brave a hilly 52km bike ride towing over 100lbs of fidgeting daughter... I don't see the wiggle room for the rest of us to have much of an excuse.

The question, then- is not whether or not we are capable or able to effect change.
No, the million dollar question is- how do your daily choices define you, and is this what you would intend?

It is high time we raised the bar for ourselves based on our daily choices, just as it is high time we stopped giving a shit about those people too lazy to fix their own 'problems'.

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