When I was little, the things my dad said meant something. I may have applied more meaning to his words because the times when I saw or spoke to him were few and far between.
One thing he said in an attempt to make me feel special was praise me on my natural tendency to be enthusiastic about most everything.
Eat your dinner. OK!
Do your homework. Might as well start right now!
Vacuum the rug. Great, it’s my favorite chore!
He would say to me, “You know where the word enthusiasm comes from? It comes from the Latin. The direct translation is in-God-it.”
A Google search conducted a few minutes ago confirms the word was adapted by the Latin from the Greek enthousiasmos, from enthous, meaning ‘possessed by a god, inspired’ (based on the world theos, i.e., god). I guess my dad knew what he was talking about.
Now that my dad and I share the same disease I have been even more public about my feelings toward him on this blog. (In short: I am not a fan.)
But in the last few weeks something new has been revealed to me—for better or worse, I am enthusiastic about my disease.
I’ve lobbied Congress on chemo drug parity. I helped start a Twitter community for people with brain tumors. I changed my career to put me in direct connection with leaders in health care. Immediately after my dad’s diagnosis I enrolled the two of us in a familial study of gliomas. I obsessed over the release of the 2016 WHO Classifications of Tumors of the Central Nervous System. I declared to anyone who gives a shit that “I am the open source patient,” and I am happy to share my personal health information if it would possibly give a researcher a leg up in the study of this disease.
I did not spend much time with my dad. There were years, in fact, when I never heard from him at all. And then there was early last year when I finally made peace with never seeing him ever again.
Yet somehow he knew that–even as a small child–I was enthusiastic about whatever challenge was put before me.
I am possessed–perhaps by a God, but most likely a mission in which I do not yet understand.
I am inspired.
I am enthusiastic.