There is no Multiverse, but there are multiple versions of you. Throughout your Life, within every person that’s been close with you, lives a version of you from that time period. Every version is different, and they culminate into the person you are in this moment. After I suffered a debilitating stroke, I wanted the versions of myself that lived in my friends minds to be what existed in the current physical realm. Therefore, I actually hid from some people, preferring to be the version that they remembered over the version of me that is. This sentiment crossed my mind again more recently upon the impending reunion with a long time friend. However, I pushed those notions away in favor of anticipation. Where I once wanted to stay hidden away in favor of a memory was no more. Because, I’ve realized staying stuck as the same version in someone’s mind correlates to being stuck in the here and now. There is no growth in that. Besides, with the right person you won’t be afraid to be yourself. Even if I was in a wheelchair, they could see me walking. Even though my left side may be currently paralyzed, they could see me moving fluidly. In fact, whatever the current physical reality was, they would see me. And, just the same, I would see them! That’s the beauty of knowing. It’s not that we have the ability to recall a preferred version of each other, but rather that we can see each other through whatever version we are currently inhabiting. The ability to do this with one another is not only true authenticity, but it’s what creates a safe place. It is a space in which we can be messy. A place in which we can be vulnerable. A place in which we can truly share a laugh. Furthermore, one in which, failure is okay and successes are celebrated. My wish is not to be an old version of myself that is remembered by someone, but to be brave enough to shatter that memory and replace it with who I am today. More importantly I hope to always have people in my Life that I can do that with, and I hope you do too!
Posts Tagged ‘Love’
” Somewhere between living and dreaming. there’s New York.” -unknown.
To love this bustling city full of skyscrapers whose lights mingle with the sky, turning into stars of their own is to love yourself. The city will test your strength, test your resolve, and give new meaning to manifest destiny. Rent isn’t too expensive, it’s simply the admission price you pay for a ticket to the best ride of your Life. This “town,” will present you with hurdles to access the most ordinary of activities, and then reward you with inumerable opportunities. The streets have worn down the rubber soles of my shoes like hungry children eating cake at a birthday party. It is not so much a glamorous life here, as it is a rewarding one. The apartments overflow with interesting individuals, that possess all levels of potential. However, there is no vacancy for mediocrity! If there is a diamond to be produced from a lump of coal, New York City will squeeze it out of you. If you’re open and willing you’ll climb the ladder in an upward direction. Here there aren’t streets of identical little box homes with cars in the driveway, and manicured lawns. Instead, everything is jumbled, different, and there’s a subway entrance that can take you around more than 665 miles of track. Laid end to end the Transit train tracks would stretch to Chicago. Riding a subway train opens up more opportunity to you than any car ride you could ever take around an identical block of houses! You see, there’s no special club you must join to live here. One only needs a heaping helping of ambition. If you find the prospect of getting groceries, washing laundry, or a trip to the Post Office becoming more arduous too much to bear, I’d be quick to point out that just as the mundane becomes ever more so, the same can be said of enjoyable activities. Suddenly there are oodles of openings in your chosen career field, leisurely and cultural events are within walking distance, and they happen frequently, often even for free. If you’re a person that can see openings where others only see closed doors, this place is for you. I don’t love New York for its image or even for the food, but for what it has contributed to my Life. I’ve learned that hitting the pavement, talking to everyone, and binge willing to hustle harder than everyone else, means your reward will be greater than what everyone else is getting. If you allow it to be, the city will be the stone that sharpens you. So, I’d suggest wherever you are don’t be afraid to put yourself in the uncomfortable position to be sharpened. However, it’s something that will happen a lot faster in New York City!
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
While at one time I only needed you to be cute, have a reasonable amount of knowledge about punk music, know how to skateboard, and have cool hair…… As Bob Dylan sings(not punk) “The times they are -a- changin.” These days I actually care about things like integrity, employment, your moral compass, and our shared future prospects. If you don’t know already(or yet) I had a stroke, and besides time changing things, so does almost dying. I’ve always put in a vast amount of effort to reach my goals and stroke recovery has been no different. Except(I lied) one thing has. Besides undergoing an arduous amounts of therapy, I’ve mirrored my physical development with meaningful growth of my soul. Neither has been easily achieved. Therefore, I’m not willing to put the priceless fruits of my labor(or my heart) into just anyones hands. So, I need you to step up. Reject me if you will over the effects the stroke has had on my life(this has already happened) but you’d be making an egregious mistake. This is in no way because I think I’m better than other people. It’s because I know my value. Although, much of it was robbed from me upon waking up in a hospital, the years have added it back and then some. Perhaps it’s age, time, or snobbery, I know it is wisdom! Far too many people(me too) undervalue themselves. We look into the mirror of society, and a distorted image stares back at us. The truth is, we are powerful, beautiful, and strong beings capable of ever expanding knowledge. Nothing is fixed, something I once wished wasn’t true, but am now grateful for it. Change means we can grow, progress can be made, and it makes Life precious. Mine, yours, everyones. The bottom line is, if you can be half as wonderful as my beloved dog Goose, I think we’ll be fine.
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” – Gerard Way.
I’ve been asked on many occasions, how I’ve dealt with a landslide of changes and perceived losses yet continued to move forward. That’s just it, perception. All of the things that were uncontrollable for me, could happen to anyone, but then again most people don’t have massive strokes in their twenties. As rare as such an event is(thankfully) it’s just as rare to survive it. Besides the initial question of how such a thing could happen, the question became what to do when it does. I have been attempting to answer that question for the last five years. At first it was just a matter of survival. While I don’t recall my time in intensive care my family certainly does. They and the medical team were fighting for me at the time. However, now that I’m able it’s my turn to enlist in the battle for myself. As I have steadily made physical and cognitive gains, many people are impressed. However, what they don’t fully realize is that anyone can achieve what I have, including them. There’s a formula. Once I became more fully aware of what had happened to me I became deeply depressed. Except at some point I knew that I couldn’t let that depression be a road block in my recovery. After all, I was in the fight of my life! When push came to shove, I wasn’t going to let the stroke continue to push me down. Certainly it did while I was still in the hospital. But now, I felt an obligation to getting my life back. It’s funny that after you’ve been railroaded, a great determination is built up in you as a result. I simply used this determination to kick some proverbial butt. Along the way I have set some lofty goals for myself. Even if I fail, I will have failed above other people because I’ve set the bar so high. In the last 1,825 days following my stroke I’ve met and had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing individuals. Besides, the stroke really showing me what I’m made of, it has unveiled a different side of life. The side we often don’t notice and the places we oft ignore. It is in these places I have found beauty, love, friendship, and thankfulness. A lot of the formula boils down to gratitude and acceptance.
You’ve always had the power dear, you just had to learn it for yourself,” -Glinda the Good Witch.
This post will not be as long as my journey after stroke. Much like Dorothy’s house was picked up in a storm, my life too was hauled off. Except, it was by a stroke rather then a fictional tornado.
In surviving the fall from the sky, I seemingly eradicated the grim reaper much like Dorothy’s witch. In my travels since emerging from the wreckage, I too have been periodically tormented by fear. While fear is not easily destroyed by a bucket of water as in the film, it can be destroyed by dousing it with its opposite. The substance of love, hope, kindness, and healthy support. You must ignore that nagging voice in your head that insists everything will go wrong, you won’t be able to achieve your goal, and life is just happening to you. That’s a funny thing because you have the ability to exercise your will and build the road that you desire. The fear you encounter while working away on your goal can be diffused by declaring the opposite of what it’s trying to convince you of. In fact as you follow this path treating yourself with love, and receiving it from others, you’ll stumble across some breakthroughs. Not only will you experience breakthroughs, but you will also meet people to help you of an excellent caliber. People who possess hearts full of love, have infinite patience, and a true desire to help. You won’t meet these people while following the path of least resistance. As it turns out after surviving the equivalent of a thousand foot fall from the sky, you can learn to walk again(literally) just as a bird with a mended broken wing will eventually spread its wings and fly. Life doesn’t happen while you stand back and watch but when you press into it, even if it pushes back. Most of my success has happened when I dove into something head first. If you’re afraid then do it afraid! You’ll be surprised by just how much your capable of. However, if you let the fear lay a brick wall in front of you rather then a road you’ll never know. So as the song goes…. “Follow the yellow brick road, follow the yellow brick road, follow, follow, follow, follow…. And I’m pretty sure there are no lyrics concerning coming to a halt.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie.
As seen through the lens of a near death experience, you have no real problems. Paralysis? That’s a problem. Being stuck in a wheelchair for awhile(permanently for some) that’s a problem. These are just a couple of the problems I had after the stroke, and although the wheelchair is a thing of the past(see here) I still have many mountains to climb as I move forward in my recovery. Most of these mountains are things people take for granted. Like, gainful employment, driving, and generally living an independent lifestyle. If anything, that was my modus operandi before the stroke. I’ve always been and am fiercely independent and some would say stubborn. However, like everyone else I took my independent existence for granted. Imagine losing your lucrative job, nice NY apartment, a significant other, and waking up incapacitated in a hospital in one fell swoop? That is the reality(or more like un-reality) I woke up to in 2013.Many miles away from where I had built my home. As I grappled with my daunting circumstance, I often asked my distraught Parents to take me back to my apartment in NewYork. However, that was not to happen because I didn’t yet fully comprehend what had happened to me. Fast forward to 2018… Today, I stand here having completed years of therapy and hitting some pretty big milestones. After climbing all those mountains, taking things for granted has generally been beaten out of me. In light of what could(and what did) happen, I have no problems. I had money in the bank, great health, and love before the stroke.Yet I still have them after! Although, maybe not in the capacity that I would like. Regardless I have them. Thus, I am working away like a little construction worker rebuilding my life after pouring the foundation of regaining basic skills. I have had to get back to eating solid foods, re-learn how to walk and work on social skills in order to function normally again. Although, it’s still a work in progress, aren’t we all? I figure, as long as you’re still alive you have a reason and a purpose to be here. Therefore march on brave soldiers!
“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
-Frank A Clark.
There is a line that runs across the globe of my life, and you can’t see it. It’s the day of October 12th, 2012, a space in time that has forever separated my life into a “before, and after.” Well, the before and after the massive stroke that is. Everything gets compared to and measured against this timeline continually. The closer I can get to the before measurement, the better. I used to think that my life was the most valid on the before side of this line. However, as things improve the after side isn’t looking as doomed. If you’re a psychology buff as I am, you will know that we often misremember our past as well as our futures. This has been proven by numerous studies. In my search to nullify my own psychic pain from all the struggles of recovery I have discovered this fact, as well as the fact that 85% of our worries do not come true (read here).Combined, these two mental objects set in the landscape of time have helped the “after,” side of the equator become as sunny as South Florida. The blindfold blocking your mind from this view is that we often believe our futures will be like our present. We can let bad circumstances settle upon us and bury us, or choose to be enlightened by them like a flint being struck against stone. When push comes to shove, those bad circumstances have to go! Your life is as valid as you choose to view it. Surprisingly, all those traits that doctors worried the stroke would take away have survived. I’ve just had to work very hard to uncover them. The point being, that no matter what the tragedy, few things can take away your spirit. My personality has not been lost(or re-shaped) by the seven blood clots that threatened to make me brain dead. Rather, the human spirit proves to persevere.
We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.” -Orson Welles.
With an over two month inpatient hospital stay and constant therapy or doctor appointments upon discharge, my social life was dead on arrival. Not to mention I was practically on house arrest, not being able to drive anywhere. This just added to the great sadness that plagued me; a culmination of living upside down in a world that was not of my choosing. This “new world,” lacked the independence I had once known prior to the stroke, possessed no social life, and had way too much parental supervision for my liking. I often found myself alone making up things to keep busy and to keep sane. Luckily, growing up as an only child provided sufficient training for such circumstances. Living in a constantly moving world and being so unusually busy myself, friends were a rare sight. However, despite all of the hurdles there are those wonderful souls who have stepped forward and really offered their time and support. These humans are what I like to call rare birds, that stand out in an overwhelming flock of conformity and status quo. They are colorful when things are dull, different when things are uniform, and most of all compassionate. I’m happy that along life’s rocky road I picked up these hitchhikers and can call them my friends.
Whats more, these passengers I have procured aren’t the type to bail out as soon as the car breaks down. Instead of looking for another ride, they patiently wait and help me while I try to fix mine. For years now it is on these little pebbles of good moments that have added up to create a road I am able to move forward on. It’s not only good company, but it serves as therapy too! It has improved my soul, AND aided in the recovery of my brain. Therefore, these rare birds are certainly more then just flights of fancy. They also serve as part time therapists and free of charge no less! You can’t beat that. It is often that when life beats you down that these birds will rise up to meet and surprise you with their goodness. Because, it is when you find yourself in the dark that you need to be reminded of the light. This was(and is) especially true in my case and perhaps yours too. It seems the things we need most will find us when we least expect it.
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