Bear with me – I am ticking off a life goal here, so before you move on to the next post, please read a bit more, just on the off chance. I have a signed photograph of you on a shelf in my classroom. I have been known to send unwitting (and culturally uneducated – shame on them!) teenagers out of the classroom in disgrace for not recognising you immediately.
For a few years now I have maintained a list of “things I would one day love to do”. Not the predictable stuff (I have no interest in winning the lottery – no honest, I mean it! Nor do I have any particular desire to travel to some far flung idyll and lie on a beach – does that make me odd?) Anyway, this list is an eclectic one, and it is not that I have not ticked anything off it – I certainly have done. But some items remain stubbornly untouchable. There were a handful of wishes on there that I simply would never be able to make come true, unless a genie appeared from a lamp or some other Disney-esque miracle occurred. Or so I thought…
Then last year I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and suddenly I find myself no longer prepared to accept the idea of waiting for fortune to favour me. I am realising that if I want a genie, I am going to have to find a lamp and become my own. This condition is not terminal (in the sense of turning my list into some sort of “bucket list” – the bucket does not beckon, at least that is the hope!), but it IS incurable, and progressive.
So I have reviewed my life list, during a period of relapse a few weeks ago when my legs decided to stop working altogether for a month or so. Thankfully they have now resumed their full-time role of moving me around, but not before I decided to purchase a cheerfully bright electric blue wheelchair just in case – better to be prepared – and the sexiest little flowery wallking stick you will ever see. I am sure you see where this is going. On my list of things I would love to do (in the sub-section headed “but probably never will…”) is to sing with Jason Donovan.
This long-held dream has been the subject of much ridicule among my friends. Not because they too would not melt at the prospect (I choose my friends carefully – if they too don’t adore you and your work then they ain’t real friends, it’s that simple!), but because they suggest that “stuff like that just doesn’t happen to people”.
And they are right. Stuff like that does not “just happen”. You have to create your own destiny. Having MS is teaching me that life is very much whatever you make it, and that the wholeness of life is determined entirely by the choices we make. I can choose to sit and wallow when my legs won’t work, or I can pick up my flowery walking stick and dance. I always, always choose to dance.
So I decided, it’s worth a shot. Up to this morning the odds of me getting to tick a dream off my list and sing with you sat at somewhere around zero (unless that genie really did exist and tap you on the shoulder holding my number, but I wasn’t sure it was worth pinning all my hopes on that one really. Ok, I feel I am underselling the genie option here. Let’s call it 0.001%, just for good measure). When I press send on this post, I may elevate the chances to a gigantic 0.002%, and that doubles my odds, right? So I have nothing to lose.
I should point out (in the push for a 0.003…) that I can kind of sing. I mean I am not good, but I am not god-awful. I can hold a tune and have sung on stage at amateur productions, school concerts and the like. So what I mean is, it wouldn’t ruin the show and make people run howling into the car park. I know we Brits are supposed to effuse modesty, but I only get one shot at this, and I would hate to think you could be sitting there thinking it is a teeny bit possible but then hesitating at the thought that I might be some kind of screaming banshee. That said, I probably ought to throw in that I am in no way making a bid for stardom here – ha! This is not some cheap shot at thinking I will ask you sing with you and get spotted and bag me some sort of record deal. My students (to whom I regularly sing, not real songs but naff revision songs to help them learn what they need to know to pass their GCSEs) would howl with laughter at the prospect of this being mistaken for a drive for fame and fortune!
This is just one thing to tick off my list. One more way to show the world (and myself) that you create your own destiny, and if you don’t ask you will never know. And yes, when it really comes down to it, I know I would never have done this if I had not been diagnosed with MS. I would just have waited for a genie. So if I could show just one person that being diagnosed with a disability can be a force for good in your life (“Hey, look, I would never have got to sing with Jason if it wasn’t for MS!” – you get the picture), then sending this crazy request would have been worth it.
Yours, hopefully, (with not a genie in sight)