Last week I climbed the Acropolis. Considered to be the most important ancient site in the Western world, the Acropolis (“high city” in Greek) is where Greeks built the Parthenon, a symbol of ancient Athens, nearly 2,500 years ago. The climb to the Acropolis is strenuous. I felt a sense of claustrophobia that was beyond my comfort level as I climbed the steep steps to the entrance gate. One wrong step on the ascent, and I’d topple down on the thousands of sightseers below me. The worn, polished rock is extremely slippery and I nearly slipped once, producing gasps from fellow tourists.
When I reached the Parthenon I was surprised to see that it is now largely in ruins from time, past wars, and pollution. The site is a renovation project that when complete, won’t look fully restored, but will be a fortified version of the ruins I saw.
I looked at the cranes and scaffolding holding up the remnants of the famous Doric and Ionic columns and couldn’t help comparing the temple to a person with Parkinson’s disease. A person with PD supplements their neurological function with medication or (in my case) Deep Brain Stimulation apparatus, and exercises to lead a productive life.
We will never be fully reinstated to what we were prior to our chronic disease, but we can inspire the rest of humankind with our bravery and strength of human spirit. Just as the Parthenon is today, people with Parkinson’s disease are wonders of the world.