Reflecting on Change

Last updated: October 2022

Sam Cooke soulfully belts out the chorus of his 1964 hit, "A Change Is Gonna Come."

"It's been a long, a long time coming. But I know a change gonna come. Oh, yes it will..."

Pushing for positive change

The song was inspired by a plethora of racially unjust experiences the R&B singer both endured and witnessed during that era in history, and was written after a specific incident when he and his entourage were turned away from a whites-only motel in Louisiana. It became somewhat of an anthem for the civil rights movement and African Americans. The song spoke of the (hope of a) change that was gonna come one day - better societal challenges relative to racial distress. Mr. Cooke wanted the song to promote a positive change that would one day bring resolve to this adversity. And now times are much different for African Americans. Better.

My personal adversity

Reflecting decades later, I correlated the theme of said song to personal adversities along my journey. Like when I was young and found my way into an extremely toxic relationship. It was painful and dangerous to stay, yet very difficult to leave. Once the moment of 'ripping the bandaid off' inevitably came and I removed myself from that situation, I had to have faith that I could get past that traumatic experience and believe that a change was gonna come. And it did - making my life different, better. I also remember when my son found himself in a very serious situation that rocked him and our family to our core. We had to hang in there having faith that a change was gonna come. And once it did, things were different, better.

The adversity of MS

But then, very different adversity came my way on the day I was diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis (MS). Suddenly, I was afflicted with a degenerative, debilitating disease that I had to mentally accept and learn and identify ways to manage such a malady.

The many symptoms are challenging and many are a daily struggle. Fatigue, spasticity, incontinence, loss of fine and gross motor skills, neuropathy, sensory issues, seizures, and more. I have lost my independence and am basically homebound and sedentary. This disease takes a toll physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some days, it's all I can do to just 'be': Be present, be content, be without sadness/anger/frustration, be optimistic.

What can change do?

Be open to changes that are gonna come. Changes that can't necessarily make MS better, per say, but they can and will make some aspects different and/or more bearable. These include a more capable home health aide, a more effective medicine for an old or new symptom, an assistive device that makes a task easier, or perhaps, a more comfortable wheelchair. My outlook and attitude can also change - so that I can appreciate whatever changes come that bring me any form of betterment.

The power of hope

The song's lyrics were intended to give hope and inspiration to push through adverse circumstances, to reach a better day. Whether societal, familial, or personal adversity, faith and outlook played major roles in changes for the better. I say all of this to say I don't foresee my MS getting better and that prompts me to recall one of the last verses Mr. Cooke sang that resonated with me:

"...Oh, there been times that I thought I couldn't last for long, but now I think I'm able, to carry on...
Because though not knowing just how or when, but staying strong and keeping the faith, I know...
...a change gonna come. Oh, yes it will..."

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