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Seize the Day

By Matt Cavallo
One of the most valuable lessons that MS has taught me is to seize the day. When I was first diagnosed, I was hesitant to make plans because of the unpredictable nature of the disease. That meant that I missed out on concerts, games, or other events because I just couldn’t be sure of how I would feel that day.

Little by little people stopped inviting me places. At first, they would do the courtesy check-in to gauge my interest, but after several noes in a row, people stopped trying. Maybe I should have shared with friends and family the reason behind my rejection of social events, but I never wanted to blame the disease for fear that MS would push people away. As it turns out, constantly turning down invites because of my fear of the disease had the exact same effect. Not only did my fear of my MS push people away but it made me miss out on a lot of fun in life.

A vivid example of this occurred many years ago when a good friend of mine had an extra ticket to a Paul McCartney concert. One of my favorite bands has always been the Beatles and Paul McCartney is my favorite Beatle. Seeing Paul perform live was more than a dream come true – it was an actual item on my bucket list. I jumped at the chance and told my friend initially that I’d love to go with him. As the date drew closer, however, I started to worry about how my MS would handle the show. I started asking myself questions like: Would I have the stamina to handle a four-hour concert? And What if I tripped maneuvering through the crowds? As the date approached, I came up with some cockamamie excuse for why I couldn’t go and ultimately, backed out of attending the concert with my friend.

I became really good at watching the world go on around me and missing out on all of the wonderful things that life had to offer. It wasn’t that I was reclusive or agoraphobic, I just never knew how I would feel because of my MS and I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone once I got there. I could also justify that staying home was comfortable and safe. It didn’t matter that I missed the concert of a lifetime because I could always watch some footage online. These justifications gave my inner MS voice power over my outer world. Whether I knew it or not, it needed to change. I just didn’t know how.

As it turns out, there was no magic switch to get me motivated. What happened was that my kids started growing up and they wanted to go out and explore the world. When they ask me to do something, no matter what my MS is making me feel, I try to push through my limitations and be present.

That is really the key. Pushing through and finding that motivation. Maybe you don’t have kids. Maybe you have some other motivation. Find that thing that makes you want to get up and try. It may take a little extra effort to get up and get going, but in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Like me, my kids are huge Beatles fans. Tomorrow, we are heading to Los Angeles to see Paul McCartney live on the Freshen Up tour. Not only am I leaving my comfort zone, but I am leaving the state. I found my motivation. I want my sons’ childhoods to be filled with memories like this when their dad took them to see a living Beatle perform, not with times that they had to miss out on something fun because their dad was sick. Sorry MS, it is time to check everything I can off of that bucket list. Carpe diem!