An interview with David Osmond
While multiple sclerosis may not be hereditary, a positive attitude could be in the genes. Diagnosed ten years ago with MS, David Osmond is not unfamiliar with the illness. He watched it take his dad, Alan Osmond, off the stage after a lifetime of performing. And then, after his own lifetime of performing, the illness struck him hard. The tripping and falling was bad enough. But then it took David’s music, his passion and livelihood. His fingers failed him as guitar strings sat quiet and his voice vanished.
At 26 years old, one of the famous Osmond family performers had no way to perform. Life as he knew it was over.
But then things started to change. After being stripped of his livelihood, there was nowhere else to turn but to his true self. To that deep down faith and those core values that are practically part of David’s DNA.
The Osmonds were born and raised to find the good in life. They were inspired to use talents for good and to thrive to be a good example. David remembers fondly his Grandma Osmond, a strong and positive influence.
“This too shall pass,” she would say, showing just how this family rolls. From the top down the Osmond family has had a push for the positive.
Not every family has a motto. Brought about by challenges, endurance, good times and bad, the Osmond Family has adopted “ETTE”. Or, “endure to the end”. This motto has been revised by David to say, “Endure to the end of the day,” because sometimes with MS it’s just enough to get through the next 24 hours.
Despite the struggles, David has been surrounded by positivity. Never once did he hear his dad, Alan, complain. Instead he was taught to look inward from the outside, to take a different perspective. To “recognize the disability in order to define [one’s] abilities”.
One prominent change in life happened when David took a new view on the old, “why me?” victim mentality. Instead of asking himself, “why me?” about the MS, he turned the question around and started asking, “why me?” for each of his blessings. He focused on the positive. And then, the negative just seem to fade away.
“Practice” is what Osmond attributes much of his success in staying positive. “Life is tough,” but get up, go forward and focus on the blessings. “Why me?” Yes, me. Why am I blessed with so much?”
Performing has also helped David cope with his illness. When one is always on stage and in the public eye, one quickly learns to wear a smile. All the time. Combine this with a positive upbringing and, well, when life gets tough, one learns and practices to “put a smile on and deal with it”.
David bought up a great point about what it means to wear a smile. That wearing a smile is a choice. It’s a person’s choice as to how they react to life. Life is tough. For everyone.
At this point David quotes a great philosopher, “Socrates thought that if all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence every one must take an equal portion, most persons would be contented to take their own and depart”.
But being positive is not always easy. “It’s not the disease but the lack of hope that gets you down,” says Osmond. It takes practice, a lot of practice, to remain positive in life. Then adds, “Being sad and negative isn’t worth it. It’s just much easier to be happy.”
And then David reminded me of another great philosopher, Dr. Seuss, when he started to quote his poem, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
“When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad . . .
you should do what I do!”
With years of practice, surrounded by positivity, David Osmond told his MS to take a hike. Ten years into the disease David is back on the guitar, has three amazing children, and a loving wife. He not only has a voice to sing but also to advocate loudly for MS. Those feelings of denial grew into gratitude, thankful for everything the disease has brought to his life.
In appreciation of this gratitude, a new song was written and performed by David. If music is what feelings sound like then David nailed it with his song, 'I Can Do This'. He wrote it to inspire people with relapsing MS to do more than simply cope with the disease, but to live a better life with it.
As part of his efforts to advocate and help folks with MS, a new campaign was created to pay special attention to folks with relapsing MS. This campaign is called “Our Voice in Song,” and is located at ourvoiceinsong.com.
In addition to the song, there are many resources available on the website, Ourvoiceinsong.com. In addition to a full-length story of David’s fight with MS, there are tips and tricks, and a free music download of his song, “I can do this”.
While positive attitude may not be in our DNA it is transferred from birth through growth in everything we do and everyone in our lives. Every moment we have a chance to respond to life, we have a choice. Is it positive? If not, find a way to smile. Turn it around. Ask a friend, family member, support group. Ask someone to help you find your smile. It will be worth it.