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  • Writer's pictureNate Methot

No Big Deal

As I looked up between awkward sips from a plastic straw that was much too big for my little cup of cappuccino, Z said, “So, I’ve never had coffee with a published author!”

“Eh, it’s no big deal,” I reacted. My standard response.

Over the cacophony of music and voices, I explained the process and how I came to have my memoir on the shelf of the local bookstore. I’ve, of course, done this many times. I’m now realizing the purpose of my explanations: It’s an instruction manual, an easy-to-follow guide to completing this simple task. Because surely, with instructions, anyone could do as I’ve done. Right?

That’s what I seem to believe. I know, intellectually, that few people publish books, but my instinct—my deepest feeling—is to diminish my accomplishment. Because—it seems to me—given the right circumstances, anyone could accomplish anything.

The book is a product of my circumstances. No ALS, no source of (somewhat) unique and interesting stories, no memoir. As I’ve said, without ALS, I don’t know where I’d be. I’m not special, except that it happened to me.

But the feeling runs deeper. Thinking back over any of the things I’ve done in my life, I’m not sure I’ve ever truly accepted and held praise. Whether spoken or kept silent, it seems I’m always ready with an explanation. It’s really simple; it’s my grandmother’s recipe (spoken). I practice a lot, and these other kids suck (unspoken; on my saxophone prowess). I’m not even sure I’ve taken the time to recognize some of the bigger accomplishments in my life.

The day I bought my house, I stood at the top of the driveway with the keys in my hand thinking, I can’t believe this is mine/ours. (Legally mine, but bought for Kim and I, together.) I remember that deeply surreal, intoxicating feeling. But it wasn’t accomplishment. It was joy; I didn’t think I’d done anything special.

Three years after an ALS diagnosis, without full-time work, I was engaged to be married and closed on a three-bedroom cape abutting an apple orchard. I’d accumulated a twenty percent down payment, jumped through a seemingly never-ending series of hoops for a mortgage, and was thoroughly relieved the process was over. But I’m not sure I felt I deserved any praise.

Maybe it’s bigger than me. I look for reasons for everything. The “Why” behind the “What,” I say to myself. In this way—in some ways—no one deserves credit for anything. This seems utterly ridiculous, and yet, not entirely.

If my parents were doctors, would I be a doctor? If I were six foot eight, would I have played professional basketball? If I weren’t so damn cute, could I possibly have gotten a date a decade after my diagnosis? Knowing the results, it seems easy to reverse engineer the outcome. But, of course, it doesn’t work that way. Not really.

How do we celebrate success? Does anything ever really fill us up for long, or are we always on to the next thing? What if we are? Is that bad? Or good?

I’m satisfied with my memoir. I’m happy with how it came out and remember all the work that went into it. I read other memoirs and determine—objectively, I think—that mine is often superior. (Not that comparisons are appropriate, or even necessary.) And yet, I genuinely cannot take a compliment.

What is that?

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Eduardo CG
Eduardo CG
03 Μαρ

Keep going Nathe! Your posts are really motivating and makes me stand up and fight!

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