10-17-11: To Be Flawed
Dudley Clendinen is an award-winning author and journalist who lives here in Baltimore. A former reporter and editorial writer for The New York Times, he found out in November, at age 66, that he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
There is no known cure for ALS, and once a person is diagnosed, they usually live between 1.5 to 3 years.
Over the past few months, Dudley has been speaking with Tom Hall about living with ALS. In this conversation, Dudley talks about how his flaws have helped him deal with the disease.
Dudley says he’s glad for his alcoholism–and his homosexuality. “It really helps to be a member of a minority group. It teaches you that you’re not so damn special in some ways that you might have thought you were. It helps to be flawed—and to know it, in some very deep and serious way. It’s good to be serious about some things in life. It’s good to be serious about your work. It’s good to be serious about your commitments. It’s good to be serious about your talents, to know what they are, and to act on them, because that gives you the best hope of being happy and satisfied and productive, and doing something that matters, but it’s good not to be serious about yourself.”
“It’s a great thing to know we all make mistakes, if you learn from them,” says Dudley. “I was never able to learn from other people’s mistakes until I learned to admit my own…It helps me to keep the focus not on me. The things I like in life are what I’ve learned from the risks I’ve taken. If you don’t take risks, you do nothing worthwhile or lasting… If you have a risk you want to take, take it. If your gut says wait a minute, wait a minute. But if you feel convinced that your spirit and your mind really want to take a leap, then leap.”
You can listen to all of our conversations with Dudley Clendinen at this link.