Facing death is different for all, but the inevitability of it can be chilling. Is it better to know that you are going to die, or is it better to not see it coming and only face it for a short time? One woman had time to prepare. She knew the end was coming and found solace where she could. After her death, her family discovered a note that she had left behind; a quote by actress Patricia Neal.
Life has no smooth road for any of us. As we go down it, we need to remember that happiness is a talent we develop, not an object we seek. It’s the ability to bounce back from life’s inevitable setbacks. Some people are crushed by misfortune. Others grow because of it. – Everything worthwhile is at first difficult.”
The famous actress suffered many heartbreak during her life, losing a daughter to the measles and helping to rehabilitate a son hit by a car. She returned to Hollywood, but suffered three strokes while pregnant, leaving her in a coma for weeks. Once she woke up, she could not speak or walk being partially paralyzed, and she had double vision on top of it all.
But in an interview, she shared her incredible journey, and her words still inspire millions, even years after her death.
After my stroke, I was like a ship at sea in a dense fog; a white darkness shutting me out. I was paralyzed, speechless, and had double vision. The doctor told my husband, ‘I saved her life, but I’m not sure I have done you any favors.’ The doctor also said I could hope for virtually no further improvement after two years. I, and the friends who helped me proved him wrong.
We should all be proud of our accomplishments but never disheartened by our setbacks. I’ve been struck by tragedy. But each time I’ve struggled back to continue life’s voyage. I like the way Carlyle put it. ‘In idleness alone is there perpetual despair. There is always hope in a person who earnestly works.’ We only fail if we fail to try.
The number of lucky breaks we get in life is not as important as what we do with them. My professional debut was as an understudy filling in for another actress. I walked onto that stage and gave the performance of my life. Or so I thought. I was actually too young for the part and was replaced two and a half weeks later. But it was a start. And I set even higher goals.
The trick is to never get comfortable, to constantly put ourselves to the test. People don’t wear out. But they often rust out.
Acting is the most marvelous and exciting and enjoyable thing that I know. It is my life. I am constantly reading scripts, always looking for those wonderful character roles I want to play. Watching people battle back from despair and helping them cope with their problems is an even greater joy, though. Much of my time now is devoted to speaking to stroke and accident victims and raising funds for the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center.
These struggling people have taught me a great lesson. Never close your door on a setting sun.
The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.
I know one young man who spent a month at the Center coming back from an accident that’s left him paralyzed from the waist down. Since his release, he has married and opened a successful business. From his example, and many more like him, I find new meaning in the old seaman’s saying, ‘Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.’ What is easy is never valued. Constant success shows us only one side of life. We’re never forced to stretch and grow.
We should never forget that the strongest souls, the most massive characters are covered with scars.
Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is greater. One pampers the mind, the other trains and strengthens it. Adversity brings out talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant. As Byron said, ‘A man can see farther through a tear than a telescope.’ Misfortune forces us to focus on our strengths and develop them more fully. And that makes us better people.”
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