The most common word I’ve used to explain my life since sharing my diagnosis is “overwhelmed.” Sure, you might think, that makes sense: Of course someone contending with ALS might be overwhelmed.
But ALS isn’t what has overwhelmed me. Let me explain.
From the moment I pressed send on that tweet, I have heard the kindest of words from people near and far. I’ve heard from people in the baseball community I had no idea knew who I was. I’ve heard from peers from elementary, middle and high school. I’ve been constantly hyped and propped up by family and friends.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of others.
Don’t get me wrong — I appreciate it. As I’ve said numerous times, it has been overwhelming in a good way. I feel so lucky to be told, and begin to process, that others are grateful for me and my work.
But everyone should be overwhelmed.
Especially in this age of social media, we’ve been conditioned to see such outpourings when someone is ill or dies. And that is all very well deserved. But I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen kind words echo about someone after that individual’s passing and wondered if — and hoped — that those sentiments had been heard by that person. I always find myself hoping that people knew how much they were loved.
We should be telling people who aren’t dying how much we appreciate them. We should be approaching each day with that mindset.
I appreciate every single word, every single punctuation mark from every single person, but everyone deserves to know how appreciated and loved they are. I look at people who are healthy and fine, and they’re just as appreciated, but no one’s telling them.
Please, express your appreciation for others. Tangibly.
If you think about it, Lou Gehrig set an original example of this in his famous speech:
“For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for 17 years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
“When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such a fine looking men as they’re standing in uniform in this ballpark today? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.
“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that’s the finest I know.
His thread was “luck,” but there’s gratefulness there, too. Take note of his specificity, the ways in which he identifies why he feels gratitude toward these people. That’s what I’m talking about.
Please, take a cue from me, Lou or anyone else who demonstrates this.
Please appreciate others. Tangibly.