"Character consists not of the number of times one is knocked down, but of getting back up. The true measure of a person's character isn't how one lives with success, but how one reacts to the experience of failure, and in particular what one does on the third and fourth knock-back?
On every occasion in my life when something uninviting and unhelpful has occurred, my mind has always gone to those wise words of my mother which she often spoke to me.
'There may be many people who are capable of putting you down, Billy, but only you can keep yourself down.'
As a young man in my early twenties, I had a good and very wise boxing instructor. While I could never really box with any great skill, I engaged in the sport at an amateur level in order to improve my balance, very much as I took up horse riding; having one leg a few inches shorter than the other as the result of a traffic accident. I often spun around too fast and lost my footing.
My instructor would constantly remind me as I entered the ring, 'Don't forget Bill, however many times he knocks you down, if you get up every time within ten seconds, he can never knock you out!'
I guess that my mother and my boxing trainer, though one be stranger to the other, most certainly had a meeting of minds along the way!
Over the past five years since I was diagnosed with a terminal blood cancer, I have met and had contact with so many people who suffer daily with no reasonable diagnosis that they will ever improve. Many of them are destined for an early death, and some can realistically expect a horrendously painful one; given the nature of their cancer. I am sure that the vast majority are frightened of dying and yet they carry on with their daily lives positively, engaging in the lives of others and the activities of the community. Such people are truly brave. I remember being once told by a seasoned soldier who was in active service for 21 years; where colleagues of his were killed and mutilated regularly. He told me that he was scared stiff every time he went on a mission to take out the enemy. It was this very fear he held which denoted the action he involved himself in as 'bravery.' This reminded me of my mother telling me, "Billy, only cowards should ever be awarded medals for bravery.'
So every time you fear something yet face your fear, remember that you are exercising a bravery that the competent, confident, accomplished and the fearless do not have and can never possess! My one piece of advice to all persons who are having to cope with terminal cancer is never to forget to spend the remainder of your days 'living your life' instead of focusing on your death, and thereby wasting what little precious time you have left to spend with your loved ones." William Forde: March 19th, 2018