The bear-like snoring coming from the foot of my bed comforts me. A car drones by in the darkness every few seconds. My heavy eyelids put up a good fight. I'm exhausted from another day of rehabbing, but this blog screams at me to write it. The train bellows into the misty night, its empty cars chasing the huffing engine over its long metal ladder. The idea started a few weeks ago, but I didn't know how to write it without sounding like a complete A-hole and it hit me earlier today. Those of you who know me, have heard me talk about my paralysis as a gift. Simply put, I can just go do the things I love and people seem to be stoked in a huge way. My gift. Well, this doesn't just apply to my paralysis. It's a mindset that permeates into everything. Its all or nothing really. For example, the gallons of snot flowing constantly from my nose a couple weeks ago, stirred some frustrations within me. I hate being sick! It sucks! I angrily elbowed the paper towel dispenser in a bathroom after completely emptying my nose and then three seconds later dealing with another snot explosion. Ugh! Then it hit me. "At least you can blow your nose. Be thankful for that." I have a few quadriplegic friends who can't. Not only that but they can't scratch an annoying itch or pop a zit or a thousand other things I take for granted having operating fingers and some semblance of abdominal muscles. Being upset at anything is usually just a matter of perspective...and the American, affluent first world, way is mostly blind of this perspective.
Now, here's the next thing. This mindset is not easy. I'll be honest, it's not fun being a paraplegic sometimes. Let's just say this: it's not just my legs that are paralyzed. Just explaining reality here. This mindset has become survival. The reason it's all or nothing is imagine what would happen to me if I began to dwell on the daily tasks. If the half full glass began to empty. It would cause a catastrophic shift. That's the alternative and, for me, it's not worth it. Feeling sorry for myself would make my life suck. So, when I'm struck with any type of adversity I can now put this spin on it: It makes me better. Because what is the most important thing in life? Having fun? Enjoying yourself? Not in my opinion. I say building character is the reason I'm here. Looking back, what do I remember most? That perfect surf session? That unreal powder day? That night I laughed so hard with my friends my abs hurt the next morning? NO! It's the times I was broken. Those are the memories sitting starkly in my memory, as a gift reminding me of who I am, shaping me into the man I want to be.
I'm going to take this a step further and say that you probably expect this of me. You expect me to be that kind of positive guy. Well, why do I need to choose this and sit back while others squander their gifts? This means you. If I am going to find the light in every "difficult" thing, day in and day out, even when I don't feel like it, then why can't you? I'm talking about everything from spilling coffee all over the counter to your phone breaking to sitting in traffic to loosing your dog to catching your spouse in bed with someone else to being paralyzed from the neck down. Everything...little and large. Adversity is an opportunity to choose your highest path. It is why you are here. Your opportunity to face the darkest parts of yourself head on. Your Gift. All it takes is teaching yourself to see this while in the middle of it all. That's the hard part, but I believe in you because the human will is a very powerful thing.