Thursday, January 4, 2007

How Big Is Your Character?...

     I ended my Boobtube watching last night with one of the THREE shows on primetime TV that I actually choose to watch (Grey's Anatomy, Numbers, and Criminal Minds).  If you've ever caught an episode of "Criminal Minds", and of course are interested in deviant behavior and law (that's kind of a prerequisite!), this is the show for you.  It's based on the actual FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit that exists in the United States...the characters and story lines in the SHOW are not real, but the FBI BAU really DOES exist.

     I "brush up against" a bit of forensics work in my job (usually in the form of reading reports from the State Hospital), but hopefully the patients I see have never committed heinous crimes...fortunately, it is not the CRIMES portrayed on the show that fascinate me, but the BEHAVIORAL dynamics and investigation that keep me "hooked" on this show...that, and the wonderful quotes that come at the beginning and ending of the show in the form of narration.

     Last night's ending quote was one from Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese-born poet from the late 1800's/early 1900's.  The quote really got me thinking about my own life and "character" for some was as follows:

"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars."

     It certainly doesn't take "genius" intelligence to get the gist of what Kahlil was trying to say here...Big characters come with some history/ is these experiences that "grow" our characters.  But hang on to follow my rambling twist on this...

     So, as I'm laying awake in bed last night, unable to sleep, this quote kept rolling over and over in the waves of my pre-slumber mind.  Strong souls...massive characters...scars...

     We've ALL had them...scars to our psyche, that is.  We have all "endured" something along our path in life, whether we've been diagnosed with MS or some other disease...whether we've endured physical, emotional, or spiritual trauma.  It is these very experiences that have molded us into who we are today...whether our characters be "massive" or not.

     Now, add to the equation of pre-sleep thought a commercial that's running right now with one of the Redgrave girls talking about how she'd like to die from too much laughter, or from dancing, or from...but she REFUSES to die from breast cancer.  Massive characters and dying began twirling through the holes in my MS brain!  I began melding together thoughts about MY character and dying...and just HOW I would want to be remembered (Hold on!  This is not morose...bear with me!) in life and death.

     We often hear those sappy quotes about how "I have MS, but it doesn't have me", or "My MS doesn't define me"...I have always brushed them off as trite and too simplistic for my "genius" intelligence.  LOL  But in review of my bedtime thoughts last night, I came to the conclusion my MS DOES have me and it HAS BEEN defining me.  And, more importantly...THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED FOR IN THIS LIFE...character-building or not!  Whew!...You thought I'd never get to the point, didn't you?!?  LOL

     It IS true...Multiple Sclerosis has been a "massive" character builder for me (whether I now have massive character remains to be seen)...and with two or more relapses a year, it has been consuming my everyday activities and has been the basis of much of my daily focus.  It has been in front and center in my every step, every fear, every thought of my future.  "It" has been consuming me...and hopefully building more character along the way.

     But in thinking of my life pre-MS and now, I began to wonder what OTHERS are seeing in my character?  I began wondering just how I might be eulogized in death...what I would be remembered for?  And then, it hit me like a lead balloon...I DO NOT WANT TO BE REMEMBERED AS THE WOMAN WHO HAD MS!!! 


     I want to be remembered as someone who worked hard,who loved "big", who enjoyed the simple things, who laughed loudly, and someone who found the humor in all things in life...I want to be remembered as someone who gave from their heart, who was welcoming, who danced to music anytime/anywhere...someone who made you laugh, who held your hand when you cried, who comforted the sick and suffering.  NOT SOMEONE WHO "SUFFERED" FROM MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS.

     So, as much as it "pains" me to repeat this or say this..."I have MS, but it doesn't have me"...this is my new mantra for 2007.  Banal or is how I MUST begin again to live my life if I want to be remembered for the other things above.

     How big is YOUR character?  What do YOU want to be remembered for?  Yes, this IS an interactive post...please leave your comments below...


crovira2 said...

I want to be remembered as the man who popped the advertising industry's head out of its ass and got them to pay attention to MSers and other XXers.

There's over 300,000 MSers in the US alone and we deserve some attention, deserve some care, deserve some media presence along with our drugs, therapies goods and services.

When do we <b>ever</b> hear about MS or any other diseases, other than in the "<i>This should scare the pants off the wealthy and tug at their heart/purse strings</i>" or in the "<i>You're going to be in extreme pain ... and then you'll die</i>" <b><i>Jerry's Kids</i></b> fund raisers, that are in the "<i>direst circumstances"</i>, or in obtuse, opaque and boring* dissertations in the medical journals.

I say <b><i>enough!</i></b>

We're people too, damn it.

And I'm not just saying it.

I'm doing something about it.

Complaint without action is just a gripe.

But complaint married to action makes things <b>happen.</b>

*With their jargon laden verbiage, medical journals can make getting an erection sound extremely boring.

emccj said...

I feel heartened when people that I've known for years and see me regularly read my blog and say things like "I had no idea you had MS."  I'm certainly not trying to hide my disease (it is on a *public* blog y'know), but the fact that colleagues, friends, and the occasional distant cousin still tell me things like that is a check for me.  Lets me know that I'm not defining myself by my disease.

Now, my disease course is far different from yours, because the medication has done wonders for me (I'm one year relapse-free so far).  But it's my goal to keep living my life *with* my disease, not *around* it.

harkoo said...

The qualities you want to be remembered for are obvious to the people who read your blog everyday Linda. They  are one and the same and haven't changed since you started writing Brainstorm.. Perhaps having ms just adds a new dimension of sensitivity for us who have it.   Me?  I would like to be remembered for my activism which has been consistent throughout my life--i would like to pass that onto my nieces and nephew--do something--anything--about the things that upset you!   My nephew has just got a $160 parking ticket for parking in a handicapped parking spot so i guess i had better rethink my teaching strategies!!!!!!!!!!

baitulos said...


"Complaint without action is just a gripe."
I couldn't agree with you more on the above quote...and I've certainly been doing my fair share of "griping" these days!  LOL

I truly believe it is only through our own perserverance we can ever accomplish anything, be it individually OR collectively.  I personally have decided it's time for me to change my "griping" into complaining with action and begin making the necessary changes in this world that I want to be a part of AND remembered for!


baitulos said...


Hello!  I don't believe we've met formally here at CHEESE before (but, dear God, forgive me if we HAVE and I've just forgotten! LOL)

Your words are greatly appreciated and so eloquently spoken...I especially take notice of the last line: "But it's my goal to keep living my life *with* my disease, not *around* it."  That is also my goal to get BACK in relapse certainly makes it difficult to FORGET the MS and causes me sometimes to be forced to find my ways "around" it...but not all the time.  And it is in those easier times I need to focus on the other aspects of my life...the parts of my life that make up who I really am...not the MS.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.  You mention you also have a "public" blog...what's your link?  (Because I'm nosey)

baitulos said...


You are too kind in your comments, but I appreciate them all the same. (*blush*)  

I hope for you that your FAMILY and the WORLD will remember you as well for the qualities you have is only through activism we create awareness and change...otherwise we remain stagnant and without growth.  Thank you for all you offer to the world...especially your work for the creatures great and small...

The nephew will learn...or he'll go bankrupt trying! LOL


hagartyjj said...

My dear Linda, I think we are all on the same page this year.  I had to chuckle as I read this because only yesterday (same day as you) I wrote a similar post....and have been speaking of similar things on my blog, then I spoke with Dave last night and he was talking about how he too is trying to make changes in his life to shift away from the MS focus, if you will.

This past year has been a difficult year for you, and although you have MS and that is what has brought you to all of us, that is not typically the first thing I think of when I think of you or when I speak of you to my father (yes....there are a few blogs he reads as well and we talk as if we have know you all for years, lol).  What we talk about is that crazy wit of you tell such great stories, how you make us laugh.  That is what we think of first.  The MS may have brought you to us all, but it does not define the person that you are.  I know sometimes it does not feel that way, but thats how it is.  Just take things day by day.  Make a list of things you want to do and go live it up.  Life is short.  

By the way....are you on the list for the NMSS Women's wellness retreat?  You should do that you could be a good thing!  I am hoping to go.  

Take care of yourself and way to put yourself first!  

mdmhvonpa said...

Any arborist worth their salt knows this very well.  Spare the clippers, loose the soul of beauty in the plant.

pjorpeej said...

Why don't you ever as the easy questions?  OK... time to think serious thoughts.

I want to be remembered as a woman who put friendship and family before herself.  Not a martyre, but just someone who felt that she was "big enough" to take risks on people even when she suspected that the odds were stacked against her.  :)

I want to be remembered as someone who was brave enough and strong enough to speak her mind and live her life fully without worrying about "what the neighbors would think".   Someone with a sense of humor who could laugh about what life threw at her and bounce back like a Timex watch...

I want to be remembered as a person of integrity.

I want to be remembered as someone with perseverance (otherwise known in some circles as pig headedness <grin>) and a mind which thirsts for knowledge regardless of whether she remembered the answer a week later or not.

Most of all, I want to be remembered as a good wife and mother because, to me, those have been the most important jobs in my lfe.  I'd like to know I got it right.  :)

I don't want much, do I?  LOL!

By the way... Criminal Minds is one of my favorite tv shows.  I hate the violence but love watching them take apart a mind they've never met -- and knowing I sometimes have the answers long before they do doesn't hurt either.  :)

baitulos said...


I READ your similar post!  Just can't seem to leave comments there anymore for some strange computer glitchy reason...

I DO believe there is such a thing as a "collective mind" and perhaps that is what we are all tapping has been a difficult year for SEVERAL of us in the MS community, including you.  And I think it is important to acknowledge what is "hard", to talk about it, to cry about it, but then eventually to move THROUGH it...that is an every day goal for me as well as a lifetime continue to MOVE THROUGH IT.

One of the interesting things I used to teach in safety training courses was where the safest distance is with an is either as far away as possible or right up close to them (so they can't hit or kick you as easily)...I think MS should be treated the same way...sometimes we NEED our distance and sometimes it is safer to be "right up close to it"'s all a matter of balance!

I wish you well in the coming New Year and hope YOUR MS begins to pause in its course also.  BTW...your words are very kind...


baitulos said...


As always, your comments inspire AND make me laugh!!!  Brilliant, dear man...simply brilliant.  And THIS is what I will always hold dear in my heart about you...whether you consent to that "bonding" or not!!! LOL


baitulos said...


I could not have described you better if I had written your comments MYSELF!!!  But unfortunately, I will also ALWAYS remember you as someone who made the song, "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer", a classic again!!!  Sorry kiddo...I just will...LOL

Remind me to do your numerology for you sometime...I keep forgetting to tell you this...Boohahahaha!


pjorpeej said...

This from a woman who has "Grinch parties"???  <giggling!>  

Sorry, but no matter how annoyed or upset I am, that song always makes me smile.  So, if it's not already a classic then I'm glad to help -- it should be one.  lol!