Really feels like that. Suddenly I’m a 10-year-old boy, waiting for Christmas to arrive – not quite sure whether Santa Claus exists or not but just happy to enjoy the moment. And it’s all come round much quicker than I expected. One minute WPC is an abstract concept, somewhere over the horizon. Then suddenly it’s on our doorsteps, the fruition of years of planning by a whole bundle of people.
Of course when I say “whole bundle of people”, that’s true but every part of that bundle would acknowledge the driving force behind WPC. Formally, she is Elizabeth Pollard, Executive Director of the World Parkinson Coalition. But to those who know her (and to know her is to love her) she is simply Eli. She is the person who makes WPC happen. She is a cog in every clock, the hub in every wheel. Eli knows everybody. Not just everybody who is anybody but everybody, full stop. Or everybody, period, as you persist in saying in North America! When you see her next week, take a moment to say thank you.
Of course it’s not really one more sleep until WPC. It’s one more sleep before I get on an aeroplane for that 12 hour trip to Osaka. Then by land to Kyoto. I’m about as prepared as I am ever going to be. And yes, thank you for asking, I did find my passport. Inevitably it was in my “safe place”. This of course questions the wisdom of having a safe place if you can’t remember where it is or even, as in my case, the fact this one even had a safe place. How many times have you tied a knot in a handkerchief to remind you of something, only to be bewildered later to find this knotted handkerchief. I often think of my declining memory as 1000 tiny rodents gnawing away at the wires of my cognition.
I’m not a great flyer. My Parkinson’s has reached the stage where restless legs plague me most of the time and especially so when constrained to sit still. Such as in a concert or on an aeroplane. So 12 hours of sitting on my hands or writhing in my seat is a pretty depressing prospect. That said, it probably won’t be a million laughs for the poor soul in the seat next to me. I shall do my usual thing of apologising, explaining that I have Parkinson’s telling him or her a little bit about it. And they will do their usual thing of being sympathetic, polite and kind. But it still won’t assuage their anxiety as the involuntary jerks narrowly miss knocking over that glass of red wine. I don’t yet know who you are and nor do you. But let me apologise in advance for the most miserable flight you are likely to experience in your life. Just send the dry-cleaning bills to me.
Of course, many of the more sensible advocates are already in Kyoto and will be well acclimatised. Already there have been posts from most of Kyoto’s attractions (and there are many). “Wish you were here” they say. “Me too” I think. There is a palpable and rising sense of excitement.
But there is also a sense of duty. Not everyone who wanted to go to Kyoto could. It’s a long way away and a lot of money. So each of us who can attend needs to make the best of it, not just for ourselves but for those who can’t attend. We should write stuff down, take notes, make observations and do our best to make sure that we can pass our learning on. So yes, I am excited about going to Japan. Yes, I hope to learn a lot. And most of all, yes, I will try to pass it on.
It’s nearly 11 PM and I have everything collected together on the dining room table ready for tomorrow’s departure. I just need to pack the suitcase now. Tomorrow will be a great leap into the unknown. But today at least is defined by certainty – the certainty that I will have forgotten my toothbrush. There are always some things you can rely on.