Do you know the meaning of “longanimity”? This rarely-used word is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “Patience or forbearance”.
If we forget words that name essential ideas then we can’t bring those ideas to mind. But if we know they exist and what paths they signal, they can change our lives.
Let me illustrate this principle with a real story:
Dick Hoyt is an ex US serviceman born in 1940 (now 72 years old) currently working as a professor. Dick and his son Rick, born 1962, are one of the most incredible stories ever recorded of superseding difficulties.
Rick is disabled. He was born with cerebral palsy which has prevented him from speaking, walking, manipulating things, moving freely, or coordinating his hands and arms properly. He communicates by using a special computer program which interprets his head movements, translates them into words and then builds sentences.
It was only at the age of twelve that he finally had the chance to express himself in this way. His parents never gave up searching for ways to help him live actively and independently, and ignored the medical diagnoses that would have condemned him to permanently living in total helplessness. Thanks to their efforts, the miracle I will now tell you about took place.
Engineers at Tufts University also played a part in bringing it about. They noticed Rick’s sense of humour and thought it proved he was intelligent. At twelve, Rick learned to use his special computer to communicate with head movements. The first words he spelled out were “Go, Bruins!”, a cheer for his local team. His father realised he must love sports, and decided to set out on a peculiar adventure to make his son’s dreams come true: to train and compete together in marathons, triathlons and enormous physical challenges, carrying him like an adult carries a baby in its carriage.
Rick has seen first-hand through his father’s example how the force of love and the will to improve can overcome resignation and apathy.
Dick and Rick are known as “Team Hoyt” and ran their first race in 1977. Since then, they’ve taken part in over a thousand sports events, including more than two hundred and forty triathlons (six of which were Ironman competitions, consisting in running an entire marathon –almost 44 km– then cycling 180 km, and swimming four km, one after the other). Twenty duathlons and over seventy marathons also figure on their list of achievements, including twenty-four Boston marathons without missing a single one.
Watching Dick carry his son Rick, who weighs nearly seventy kg, on a special chair attached to his bicycle, or pull him in a small boat when he swims, or push him in a specially-adapted wheelchair when he runs, is nothing less than astounding.
It’s hard to imagine how a man of his age could have the energy to get through a competition as tough as Ironman loaded with his son’s weight and the equipment they need; and he’s also managed to register amazing times.
Thanks to his father’s example, Rick studied, finished high school and did a degree in special education. He currently lives an independent life in his own apartment and works at Boston College.
Miracles exist. Crises favour them, if we want them to, if we believe we can. Nobody can ever guarantee a happy ending, but stories like these do open up new perspectives. I strongly advise you to spend four minutes of your life watching this video.
When you look at this father and son duo all you can do is feel deeply moved, and think that there are crises that may seem impossible to overcome, but that we have a much greater range of resources for getting through and superseding them than we think.
Can we manage to do everything we want? No, we can’t. But we can certainly do more than we think if we mobilise the strength of our love with a big dose of longanimity and willpower.
Virgil said love conquers all. It might not always work that way, but I feel very sure that if there’s anything that makes our lives meaningful it’s love. And this story is proof of it.
I hope it inspires you.
Hugs and kisses. Have a good week,
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