These are simple words from an amazing woman. Who among us could watch as Gabby Giffords labored to speak those words to Diane Sawyer this week and not be moved by her courage and her gentleness too? Would she return to Congress? “Get better,” was her answer.
It was as if she captured the full horror of her ordeal in words that reflect only hope and optimism, only resolve and a focus on the future. There was no self pity and no bitterness. There was no recrimination or blame. There was just her words, spoken almost to herself: “get better.”
I hope we can all take a moment to let her example sink in. For me, her words immediately conjured up images of athletes in Special Olympics. Like Giffords, many of them have challenges not of their own making but also like her, they almost never resort to blame or bitterness. Their motto could be Giffords’ own: “get better.” They rarely achieve at the level of sports’ best scores but they are the world’s role models of trying to get just a little better everyday. They achieve the kind of greatness reserved for the brave few whose spirits reflect a freedom to try no matter the cost.
My friend John Manley referred to this as the pursuit of “1/200th of a second.” Improve by just 1/200th of a second everyday and you can make the impossible come true.
But that’s easier said than done. It requires an inner resolve and equally importantly, a freedom from the low expectations of others. Most of all, the “get better” way of life depends on letting go of blaming others or focusing attention on what others want. It requires that one focus inward and convert any negative energy into the pure energy of living.
In our time, when there is so much blaming going on–Republicans blaming Democrats; Germans blaming Greeks; borrowers blaming lenders; and on and on–maybe it would be a good idea to follow Gabby and just focus on ourselves.
Whether we are Republicans or Democrats; Europeans or Asians; the 1 percent or the 99 percent, let’s look to this slight woman for a lesson. Just a few months ago, she lay in a parking lot drenched in blood with a bullet in her head. No one would blame her if today she were bitter at the gun lobby, bitter at political opponents who targeted her, bitter at the failures of the mental health system.
But at least from this interview, it appears she is not. Instead, she is working to improve, trying hard to get stronger, smiling it seems at every turn. She’s got something we all could use a little more of: the energy of living positively.
Get better Gabby. You are already helping us get better too.