Three summers ago, I was sleeping on a couch in the controlled chaos of a high-risk patient’s hospital room.
The machines beeped, the nurses rotated in and out and my husband, then just my boyfriend, was making coffee with a full professional setup, his tubes and electrical lines trailing across the floor to where they were anchored in machines against the wall.
We didn’t have answers. We didn’t know what the future held.
He was 28.
My husband has come back from the edge of stage IV kidney failure. Back because my mother, determined to be a donor, gave him one of her kidneys to save his life. And he still makes coffee with the same passion and precision I saw in the hospital that day. In the 18 months since his transplant, he’s become more determined, taken on more work, lit with a new resolve.
If you ask him, my husband would tell you that he’s not that different from most people. We all hold the power to work toward our dreams, he would say. He would remind you that he isn’t special. And while I consider him to be the bigger and better part of myself while I strive to be more like him in patience and passion, I do agree that most people have the capacity to achieve their aspirations.
As I’ve launched my creative career, starting my own blog (with my husband’s incredible encouragement), I’ve had a chance to look more closely at him as a role model, as someone who, despite health issues which would incapacitate some of us, has resolutely striven on to achieve his goals.
I’ve had a chance to look at him as a professional example as well as a partner. And as I watch him make coffee for us, as he always has, this is what I see:
1. You aren’t breakable.
As you work to fulfil your destiny, as you walk your path in life, there will be times when you will fail. But failure doesn’t mean a total breakdown. Failure isn’t the end, it’s merely another step on the path. You aren’t breakable and neither are your dreams. Treating yourself with fragility may keep you from getting your heart broken, but it will never lead you to your end goal. You have to trust that you can fall without breaking in your efforts.
2. Strength isn’t an action.
Strength can be a quietude, an underlying personality trait that is always there even in moments when it can’t be seen. And strength through adversity doesn’t mean you can’t be scared or unsure or feel like second-guessing yourself. All of these things are valid thoughts and they can be helpful in achieving your goals. But you don’t force an action to be strong. It comes from self-confidence and faith in your abilities you’ve built up over time—time spent seeking your dreams with lesson #1 in mind.
3. Work toward your dream as though you’ll never die.
If you focus on the inevitable end, your passion to pursue your goals is likely to drift away. “What’s the point,” you may think, “if I might walk out the door today and get hit by a car?” This defeatist attitude will never help you achieve your dream. In fact, it may even be a psychological trick you’re playing on yourself, designed to help protect you from the pain of failure by convincing you never to start in the first place.
So what have my husband and others like him done to stay on track, those who have had to face their mortality earlier than anyone ever should? How have they stayed focused in the face of terrible health outlooks? By simply believing in the power and validity of their goals. By trusting in the inherent worth of humans to strive for bigger and better things. By a determination to live their lives with happiness and fulfillment, no matter what the future may hold.
So work toward your dreams with no fear for the end, secure in the knowledge that the pursuit itself is worthy and deserving of your time and effort. In your journey, you’ll find that you aren’t breakable and you’ll cultivate the inner quietude and confidence that we refer to as strength. I know you can do it—I’ve seen it in action.
And as always, the whole of my thanks and love go to my husband. Without your partnership, I wouldn’t be.
Author: Abby Woody
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Timothy Marsee/Flickr