I, Flagg

I should have been asleep hours ago. I was in bed, it was dark, I am tired. You would think it had all the makings of a coma.

Sleep would not come.

I knew then the shape of what part of me wanted to do… but not in any detail. So I got up, surfed, read some news. And here I am. This is the third time I tried to start this post.

I don’t often spend much time discussing how I feel about individuals. The few times I have done so in any real way they were safely not going to read it. One was dead, the other can’t doesn’t know what a “blog” is. I am sure some of this is simply shyness.

The thing is, that just isn’t going to cut it tonight.

I spent 3 or 4 hours earlier today with Flagg. Keeping him company, running errands, helping with stuff. I have spent a lot of time with Flagg in recent years but none more so than the last 8 months as he recovered from surgery to remove a good bit of his right leg. He was tired. He was frustrated. Above all I think it was just good for someone else to be there.

I am happy to do it because I admire Flagg beyond anything I can express here.

It is common these days to talk about anyone who is sick and say they are “brave” or “strong”. The words themselves have become watered down by the same mindless PC fog as everything else. Every mewling, whining, blaming, bitter, self righteous piece of meat who managed to score themselves a real or imagined disease or “syndrome” gets called brave these days… no matter how completely they abdicate their own care. I have not one moments use for those people.

Being sick does not make you brave or strong. Being sick gives you a CHANCE to be brave or strong.

Of all the qualities I admire among the most valuable to me are prefixed by the word “self”. Self reliance. Self determination. Self respect. Many related virtues spring from those. In the end it all comes down to this… will you do what you know is right? Will you move when it is easier to remain still? Will you DECIDE? Will you ACT?

The manifestation of those virtues is simple to spot within yourself. It is there when you use the word “I”.

  • I will.
  • I refuse.
  • I believe.
  • I can.

When all is said and done, we are defined by the things we will put after the word “I”. We are only ourselves.

The most basic of the “I” statements is the essential precursor. “I exist.”  Without existence, nothing else is possible. Most of us can take “I exist” for granted. Unless we do something stupid or meet with tragedy our continued existence is a given. We will exist tomorrow, just as we have today.

At this point in time, and for years now, Flagg cannot take that for granted(1). Every day he is alive is the manifestation of an affirmative action… the direct result of an act of will. 

Each and every day Flagg has a choice – act to continue existing or fail to act and cease to exist.

In a very real way that most of us will never experience, Flagg is a child of his own continued willpower. He rises every single fucking day like a Phoenix powered purely and simply by the continued conviction that he intends to do so. To be. To act. To exist.

I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that in its own weird way it is beautiful.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish he did not have to do it. I wish it would go away. No one will be happier than I when the transplants happen and some of the pressure lets off. But none of that diminishes the sheer capacity it has to astonish and inspire me every time I think about it.

For a long, long time I have harbored a desire to get a tattoo that would bear (in some form or another) a single, essential message. “I am my own creation”. Someday I may still put those words onto my skin, but in a very real way I am not the person who should bear that concept. He is. While I certainly shape my own life – he manufactures his anew each and every day. The price of his life is  pain, effort, boredom and sometimes humiliation… but he pays it.

It humbles me every single time I see him.

I am sleepy now so I guess that’s what I needed to say. I also know that 10 seconds after I hit the button to post this I will worry about it. Wonder if I revealed too much. Wonder if he will be glad I wrote it or if it will add a burden to his life to know it. Wonder if any of the other people I admire will feel just a bit slighted that they don’t have posts of their own. I could make myself crazy about this stuff 🙂

I also could simply delete it. Now that I see this all written here the urge to get it out of my head is over. I could cheat and erase it. I won’t… but I could never have to worry about any of the things I wonder about. I could… but this deserves better than that. 



(1) I know at least one other person who faces these challenges in their lives. I have not spoken of them by name because I don’t think they want me to do so and my thoughts arose from my visit with Flagg and thus center on him. If and when they read this, I hope they will know that my admiration extends to them as well.

[tags]flagg, health, admiration, willpower[/tags]

3 Responses

  1. Burden? No.

    I spend so much time feeling silly and helpless and ashamed of my situation that it never crossed my mind that it might be meaningful in any way to anyone else. No one has done more for me than you- not my family, not people I’ve known for a decade longer. Nobody.

    To be so needy shames me deeply.

    To think that I am not, by definition, a burden- that there is another way to see me, one with such dignity…. I can’t tell you what an incredible gift that is. Dignity, of all things, is in decidedly short supply ’round Foolish- House way.

    You’ve given me some of my dignity back. There is no way to repay the enormity of that gift.

    Thank you.

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