Wednesday, May 31, 2017

World MS Day 2017

In my previous careers, friends and colleagues often remarked on the perpetual smile I wore each and every day.  Morning or night, Monday or Friday, wherever I went, my smile seemed to follow.

Sometimes, I worried my penchant for smiling might actually work against me…perhaps my grin meant I wasn’t that serious about my job, or worse, I was hiding something behind my Nixonesque smirk.

The truth is, I was just happy.  No ulterior motives.  Even in my final year of active employment, when I instituted what I considered “smoke and mirrors” (i.e., doing whatever was required to survive in Corporate America while managing an aggressively spreading chronic disease), I still couldn’t wipe that smile from my face.  To borrow from Popeye, “I yam what I yam!”

That’s not to say I didn’t have my not-so-sunny moments.  Those usually centered on my daily commute…but I do remember one particular office politics pet peeve that always got the best of my spirits --- the “brainstorming meeting”.

I get irritated even writing about it now.   “Brainstorming” and “meeting” are two words that should NEVER be used in the same sentence.  You don’t schedule ideas.  No.  No.  No, no, no.  If I could avoid those meetings, I would.  Sometimes, I would just do my best Don Draper impersonation and just get up and walk out (and yes, I did it with a smile on my face!).

Having a brainstorming session sounds great, but here’s the reality:  No new ground is covered.  Ever.  Employees say what they think management wants to hear thereby checking the proverbial boxes of “contributing”, “adding value” and “collaborating”.  Added bonus if they achieve all three competencies and create no additional work for themselves.

The best idea will never occur while 10 people are sitting around a table talking about what the best idea should be.  There is no magic in that.  It’s like warming up some store bought “Chips Ahoy” and calling them fresh, out of the oven, home-made cookies.  No!

This brings me to what I’m writing about - “World MS Day”.  That’s today, May 31, 2017. And I’ll be honest, I don’t know how I feel about it.

Do I like that there is a worldwide day dedicated to raising awareness of multiple sclerosis?  I guess so…I certainly appreciate the sentiment. 

On the other hand, May 23rd is “World Turtle Day”, May 25th is “Geek Pride Day” and clear your calendars now because June 21st is “International Yoga Day”.

I have no qualms with geeks or yoga and root for that tortoise every time to take down that obnoxious hare but at what point – when seemingly any and everything has its own “day” - do these 24 hour commemorative periods cease to have any true meaning?

What does “World MS Day” even mean?  I’m pretty sure it’s not a celebration for those of us with MS.  And I had MS yesterday and will still have it tomorrow.  According to the “World MS” website, it is a day to “bring the global MS community together to share stories, raise awareness and campaign with and for everyone affected by multiple sclerosis.”

As with my riff on “brainstorming meetings”, I just don’t see the magic.  I have a hard time writing a meaningful story about living with MS just because there is a specific day dedicated to that.  I know, I’m being obtuse….a lot of people worked hard to create this day for those of us with MS and for that, I am thankful.

And I’m hopeful that, with the help of today, additional money will go to MS research – every dollar matters – and for that, I’m forever indebted.

But to borrow from another cultural reference, “Nobody puts MS <Baby> in the corner”…and I know it’s not intended to be that way, but it kind of feels like it.

I don’t speak for the MS community, just for myself.  But I don’t want a day, a week or even a month.  A ground-breaking idea doesn’t occur at work because you schedule a meeting to discover one.  And I don’t think somebody’s awareness of multiple sclerosis is increased, just because they are told that today it should be.

Read my previous entries.  Keep following my blog, check out what I’m writing for The National MS Society or…forward and share with others.  Ask me questions, anything and anytime.  I’ll be happy to answer.

No store bought cookies from me, just the real thing.

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