Be All You Can Be

The Army recruiting slogan “Be all you can be,” reminds me
of the 11 year old philosopher’s pronouncement, many years ago. Many  of you will remember Will being distressed
that he didn’t have any “Super Powers,” but after being consoled by his mother,
coming up with his personal philosophy “I guess I will just have to be the best
Will I can be.” This story still warms his grandfather’s heart.


Recently, it was not the Army slogan that reminded me of
Will and his philosophy, but two things I read recently.  Reynolds Price in his book , A Whole New Life: An Illness and a Healing, after
going into detail about his suffering with spinal cancer, its crippling of his
body, his treatment, and ultimately coming through it all as best as could be
hoped, offers advice to those who are facing difficult battles ahead with grave
illness or other physical or psychic trauma. He says harder, but more urgent
than anything, is to realize,  “you are
not the person you used to be.” Have one hard cry, if you can if the tears will
come and then, “find your way to be someone else, the next viable you – a stripped-down
whole other clear-eyed person., realistic as a sawed-off shotgun and thankful
for air, not to speak of the human kindness you’ll meet if you get normal luck.”


In yesterday’s New
York Time’s –Science Section
there was an interview with Stephen Hawking
who has produced some of the most important cosmological research in our time
and made it somewhat understandable in his book, A Brief History of Time: From Big Bang to Black Hole. He happens to
have been diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease,  when he was 21. Today, at 69, Dr. Hawking is
one of the longest living survivors of ALS. Mostly paralyzed, he can only speak
through a computerized voice simulator. The interview is not about his Physic
theories, but about his daily life. He, like Reynolds Price, offers advice, “ My
advice to other people with disabilities would be concentrate on things your
disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it
interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”


I think Will would like the fact that he shares the same
philosophy as Reynolds Price and Dr. Hawking. When I think of these three
similar philosophies I think of friends in Little Rock and D.C. who have terrible
and painful adversity but continue to contribute and refuse to be disabled in
spirit. I also think about those, like a few of my teammates who are still
playing football in their mind because; they cannot come to grips with the
physical reality that their football career has come to an end. There are many
who were once successful in politics, business, popularity, or beauty who still
hold on to their past glories, and now are “disabled in spirit.” I say to those
listen to the words of Will, Reynolds Price, Dr. Hawking and many other lesser
known people who overcome adversity every day. Dr. Hawking in talking about his
disease borrows from my friend Tom’s Sufi Wisdom when he says, “ it taught me
not to pity myself, because others were worse off, and to get on with what I could
do. I am happier now than before I developed the condition.”

About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.

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