Each month, we spotlight people in our community who have inspiring stories to tell. Today, we are happy to feature Larry Linton, from Toronto, Canada.
WHAT HAS YOUR JOURNEY BEEN LIKE SINCE YOUR PARKINSON’S DIAGNOSIS?
Generally, I find Oscar acceptance speeches boring. The winner thanks a lot of people (whom we, the viewers, often don’t know or care about), the music cues up, and the actor exits stage left. After reading Matthew McConaughey's book Greenlights, however, and then watching his acceptance speech for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, my opinion about acceptance speeches changed.
In that brief speech, Mr. McConaughey said he needs three things each and every day: someone to look up to, others to look forward to, and someone to chase. He said he looks up to God and looks forward to his family, and he thanked them both for gracing him with opportunities and for always being there for him. It was when he spoke of his hero, though, that I started listening more intently. His hero, he said, is his “someone to chase.” But this person is not another celebrity, a well-known sportsperson, or a famous humanitarian. His hero is a version of himself — ten years in the future.
I found that profound. He said that while he would never become his hero because the hero was always out of reach, the idea gave him something to chase, something to believe in, and the image of a better version of himself that he could always strive for. This inspired me to make a future version of myself the “someone to chase” in my own life.
Ten years ago, I was beginning my life with Parkinson’s. I was a mess. In addition to having a tremor in my right hand and an uneven gait, I was a recluse and prone to panic attacks. Convinced that my life was over at 49, I often struggled to make it through the day. It was impossible to think what my life would be like in ten years.
I would never have believed it, had I heard it then, that I would run three half-marathons in five years.
I would never have believed it, had I heard it then, that I would return to my love of drumming and be invited to play in a band in the internationally renowned Beaches International Jazz Festival.
I would never have believed it, had I heard it then, that I would attain the professional milestone of “Partner,” years after my diagnosis.
I would never have believed it, had I heard it then, that I would deal with challenges of cognitive impairment with humility and grace and continue to live my life as best I can.
I would never have believed it, had I heard it then, that I would be inspired to write a book and add "author" to my curriculum vitae.
Yet now, ten years after my diagnosis, I have achieved all this, and much more. In many respects, my life today is more meaningful, rewarding, and fulfilling than at any time before my diagnosis.
We all face different challenges at different times on our respective journeys with Parkinson's, but I am continuously amazed and inspired by the stories that I have read. Each and every one of us deserves our own Oscar. We may not be actors or actresses, but all of our stories are real – and each one of us is a hero!
How do you live well each day?
Exercising each and every day, which includes strenuous cardio, running, cycling, skipping, and mediation.
What do you wish you would have known when you were diagnosed that you know now about living with Parkinson’s?
A diagnosis of a chronic, progressive, and incurable disease does not mean that your life is over. It may even signal the beginning of a more fulfilling, meaningful, and rewarding chapter to be experienced.
What do you wish for everyone living with Parkinson’s?
There is much more to Parkinson's than meets the eye. There is a long list of non-motor symptoms that can, at times, be more debilitating than the physical symptoms.
SHARE YOUR VICTORY
Each month, we spotlight people from our Parkinson’s community who embody living well today – what we call Moments of Victory®. Your story, like Larry’s, could be featured on our blog and Facebook page so others can learn from your experiences and victories.