new age spirituality

Terry Fox - A Message of Hope

Who is Terry Fox?

While privileged to spend some time in the beautiful country of Canada I happened upon the story of Terry Fox. Terry Fox is an inspirational hero here, but little known beyond our borders. His is a story I believe worth sharing with the wider world.

Terry Fox was born in 1958 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but grew up in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Terry Fox was a regular guy, but at the age of 18 he was diagnosed with bone cancer which meant the amputation of his right leg 6 inches above the knee. Tragic, but what makes Terry special is that rather than submit to self-pity he decided to devote his life to making a difference.

While recovering in hospital Terry was deeply affected by the plight of other cancer sufferers, many of them children. Touched by the story of an amputee athlete he decided that he would run across Canada to raise awareness, and funds, to combat this terrible disease. He called his run the "Marathon of Hope".

Terry began his epic journey by dipping his artificial limb in the Atlantic at St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980. Sadly his run ended in Thunder Bay, Ontario on September 1, 1980 after the cancer had spread to his lungs. Terry ran an average of a marathon - 42 kilometers, 26 miles - every day for 143 days.

Terry passed away in June 1981, one month short of his 23rd birthday. However, four months earlier he achieved his dream of raising one dollar from every Canadian. Terry Fox remains a Canadian hero, inspiring numerous events each year. At the time of writing over $360 million had been raised for cancer research.

To learn more about Terry, or to donate to Terry's fund, visit The Terry Fox Foundation

Why is Terry Important?

A statue of Terry Fox
A statue of Terry Fox stands in the grounds of Simon Fraser University.

A sad story, sure. Inspiring, certainly. But why is Terry Fox featured on a Web site concerned with Spirituality?

As well as Terry's worthy and ongoing mission to raise funds for research into cancer his story offers a number of lessons of Spiritual significance.

The Futility of Self-Pity

Thankfully most of us will never face a potentially fatal disease and the loss of a leg at just 18. But too often when faced with far more minor difficulties too many of us tend to wallow in our own self-pity. We look around at others and bemoan how fortunate they seem compared with our own wretched existence. Of course, we rarely bother to notice those who are worse off.
Self-pity is not only futile, it is also damaging in terms of lost potential. Everyone faces difficulties of one sort or another, but most don't wear their troubles on their sleeve so we remain unaware of their suffering. Instead of being consumed by self-pity and mentally re-iterating everything that's wrong with our lives we ought to focus on what's good, and what we can accomplish.

Not everyone's going to run 143 consecutive marathons or raise 100's of millions for a worthy cause. But in our own way we can each make a little difference for good. To paraphrase JFK, stop asking what life owes you and start thinking what you can give to the world in which you exist.

The Power of Belief

Henry Ford said "Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right."

If you want enough, believe enough, and try enough anything is possible. If you think negative you won't even try, and so your accomplishment, and experience gained, will be zero. If you think positive you will try your best, maybe you'll achieve your goal, or even surpass it. But you will certainly achieve something, and you will certainly gain experience - which, at the end of the day, is the reason you're here.

Decide what things you most desire in life. If they are selfless so much the better, but if they are material then that's OK too. Come to believe, or know, those things are possible. Then apply yourself fully to their realization.

Towards Greater Understanding

Having lost someone close to the same awful disease one of my first reactions on hearing about Terry Fox was to be moved to tears. A human reaction, but also an immature one. Our tears are based on the mistaken assumption that the body that is no longer animated is the same as the person that was once inside it. Despite being convinced of the certainty of Spirit some baser instinct within me still falls into this trap. It stems from the survival instinct necessary to enable the continuation of physical life. But the reality is that when you learn not to cry you have made real progress along the journey of understanding. That might sound like asking us to cease being human, but once we understand the meaninglessness of tears we take a giant leap towards true Spirituality.

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