Sometimes my mind gets in the way of me visualizing the perfect day because I’m held between reality and what I’d like to see. I say that because some 20+ years ago, I was in a car accident that took my best friend’s life and left me, a person with quadriplegia or spinal cord injury, survivor. As you can imagine, that was a tremendous amount of loss I had to deal with learning to live life from a wheelchair. Having made it through what I would consider the difficult part many years ago. Some accomplishments along the way, like moving out on my own, attending school, and eventually graduating, to something as unexpected as gaining and having relationships with women and realizing I still can be a sexual being. I have found that there is this space where I am still dumbfounded. It is what am I to do with the remaining days of my life?
I recently read a book prescribed to me by my rehab doctor called FROM THERE TO HERE, 45 stories of people who had Spinal Cord Injuries and are living to talk about it. It speaks on the ups and downs and how they continue to maintain healthy, purpose-filled lives. Some of the stories are more inspiring than others, and some are further examples of what is possible. Many of the stories focus on how their family has helped them through. Some credit a close-knit group of friends, motivating them to see each day as a gift rather than another day of just surviving.
Here is where my story comes in, being an SCI survivor myself and living the ups and downs, the most significant thing is dealing mentally with how I fit in this world once a healthy, non-disabled person vs. my life with an SCI. For example, in the book, they told how they gave up on ever believing they’d walk again and how this gave them peace of mind and helped them move on. For me, if that is the ticket, then this is not for me because I don’t want ever to give up thinking I’ll walk again. In all my dreams about my future self, I’m walking looking so good doing it too.
I know how I ended up here through a car accident in which I was driving and periodically lost control and overcorrected and whipped off the highway. They say everything happens for a reason, which now makes all of this more confusing and frustrating. Now I am supposed to believe that losing my best friend and the accident took my ability to walk was for a reason. These levels of thought are enough to make one go mad. My life has been challenging, and I’ve gotten through even more challenging times to be here today, but to grasp where I was, where I am, and where I want to be is different when I see myself as able-bodied, living well, and loving life.
Here is the part where I am perplexed with no real progress SCIs. I must hold out for hope. At the same time, nearly every story from the book told by someone with an SCI and more life experience ahead of me found greater peace and personal acceptance once they came to the understanding that they’d never walk again. Shit, I want peace, but maybe not at that cost. I live my life from day-to-day. I still have dreams, and each day I make sure to take steps daily to achieve them. Some may say they are impossible, but that is fine; I’ll still do the work. So as you can see, the major war is really in my head, so much so that the physical stuff isn’t even an issue. Yet this mind play between able and disabled is a probable reason why I call my studio Able Abe, which came to me long before all of this happened.
Coming to a close, I recently watched a video on Michael Jordan, where he talked about the practice where he would work against the best player on his team so he could continually get better. Sometimes this wasn’t enough, and Michael would still find himself and his team winning. This action leads to his coach in the middle of these practices; he would switch Michael to the losing team putting him up against a deficit and see how he would inspire his new team and look to overcome the unique situation and many times he would bring them back to win. This story spoke to me in that maybe this is a perspective I can relate to. The accident put me at a deficit to realize my inner strength to overcome obstacles and surmount the current situation. That is a perspective that I like cause no matter what, I have my vision of what a perfect day looks like within me and not whether I concede to a loss but that I fight in the face of one.