“It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.”- Paul Cezanne.
It only took twenty days to upend twenty eight years of progress, now at the age of an adult I was starting over like a child. After waking from the coma(all twenty days of it) and being cleared fora med flight to a rehabilitation hospital I had arrived. Not only was I physically back in the same location I had started from before I moved(to New York) but also mentally starting over. With no job, apartment, car, or social life, I was left with only one thing… rehabilitation. I found myselfso far down in the depths of life I had nowhere to go but up!My view from the bottom was one of complete hopelessness andloss. However, once I was farther along in my physical recovery(walking, eating, and communication skills) I began to see some light, and the burdens of the hospital were no more. I still had(and have) a mountain to climb but it’s much easier with the right tools and attitude. Once I began to shed the weight of piles of pills, a feeding tube, and the discomfort of a hospital bed I was free to breathe again. I quickly came to the realization that material belongings are meaningless, youreap what you sow, and that life is but a blur. Once I regained my determination and strength, it was clear what I had to do. It may have taken but a moment to tear down the life I had built, but now I had a chance to repair it andeven better this time! One can only be so lucky(or unlucky if you will. Now,instead of hanging outin my New York City apartment on a week day night after work, sometimes I hang out with people at a brain injury support group. Is it somewhere I ever expected to be? No, but I can still see the beauty in it. I have enjoyed having conversations with people that are usually invisible in mainstream society and very likely by me too prior to the stroke. Except that I now I see them.It’s not a place I ever wanted(or expected) to be, but I’m going to make the best of it. Because rather then dwell on the past or get stuck, sometimes we just need to tell ourselves “Let’s just get on with it!” Do I suppose I am an injured little bird stuck inmy circumstances? No, because in making the decision to get on with it I have found the hopeto fly again.
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” -Steve Jobs
For most of us themoments in our lives blur together like water color and form one large painting. It’s easy to forget that a lifetime is made up of a series of separate moments. It’swithin these moments that what makes life worth living can be found. It is also withinthese moments that we can forget where we are. Not recognizing this, we take a lotfor granted. One of my biggerfrustrations was the realization that like many of you, I missed my moment. Before my life was inexplicably changedI was letting everything blur together. If I had but for a moment stopped to consider my circumstances I would’ve been filled with enormous gratitude. Not unlike Scrooge on Christmas morning when He realizes He is alive and the valueof that life. It’s a wonder that more of us aren’t skipping down the street showering gifts upon everyone we come across. Because, quite simply had I realized the magnitude of blessings that I was living in, I nevercould justify being sad(or selfish)about anything. In fact quite the opposite, I’d be that annoying overlygiving and happy person all the time! How little do we know what a gift our lives are. Even now, though my circumstances are lessthan desirable I am still blessed. When in times of self pity, I often consider those less fortunate than myself. While I was in my little corner of the world being angry my left arm was paralyzed, there was a young man(I met him) wishing He had an arm to feed himself with. Because by a freak accident He hadbecome quadriplegic.Many years ago I scribbled the quote “The best thing to do with the best things in life, is to give them away,” on my bedroom wall. At the time I didn’tknow how true this was. Had I known how truly fortunate I was before the accident, I think I would’ve very well done this!After all, you can’t take all those prized possessions with you. You can always makemore money but you can’t awaysmake more time. Therefore, use your time well, and value experiences over material possessions. While I was bed ridden and trapped in ahospital, my previous life circumstances seemed like a dream. In many ways they still do. Little did I know at the time, that Iwas livinga dream!And somewhere in the world, your life is like a dream to someone else too. Maybe at one point like me(but hopefully not) it willseem like a dream even to you. All I wanted in the hospital was for my life to be the way it was. Tothinkthat I ever spent even a day of it depressedor sad was a travesty. Because, in comparison to my current positionthe girl I had been had everything and then some. She was physically able to do everything, had an incredible job, lived in an amazing place, and most importantly was independent. From where I was standing,or rather, laying She was all I wanted to be. I used to gripe about the traffic, now simply driving at all would be a hugejoy. I lived for the weekends when I wasofffrom work, now I’d happily put in extra hours. Sometimes I wished I was somewhereelse, but now I’d do nothing but take in my present surroundings. The point is, I had it all and didn’t realize it. Even now, you have it all too, even though you may notthink so. I promise you do.
“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
Time is one of the most valuable currencies and I felt like Iwas running out of it. We all fear the process of aging and getting older,in particular women(as I am) becausemuch of our value in society(at least in America) is based on youth and beauty.
Therefore, it leaves thousands of the fairer sex trying to stop or regain time from a bottle(thanksbeauty industry). After this happened to me(the massive stroke) I had many things never thought of before on my mind. One of those things was the idea and concept of time. A myriad ofnew questions swirled in my head.“As I get older will I lose my value?” “Has this completely stolen my prime years!?” Time was no longer marching forward for me, it had stopped. Caught in this slow motion car wreck, all I could see were the things I was missing out on. The things I would or shouldbe doing instead of being all messed up ina rehab, hospitals,and doctor offices. All I could see were countless hours of my life slipping through my hands. This is also why I had to avoid Facebook for awhile, if not completely. Because my friends were doing what I was, or would be doing had this not happened to me. This begged the question “Can time be madeup?” The answer to that isno, which terrified me. I couldn’t make up or get back the memories of the things I was missing out on. Although others assured me I wasn’t missing out, I was still convinced of it. When your not living your life, but instead watching it go by, nothing seems right.I have never been one to sit on the sidelines, but now I had been “benched.” In my down time I plottedhow I was going to get back into the game. In moving forward, it was difficultfor me not to look back. If you can just focus on the present at hand and simplify it, you stop marrying your present to your past.(Therefore, the future becomes less scary. This was helpful to me, because I was thoroughly scared of the future. There are certainaccomplishments in life that help topropel you and build a solid foundation for the future. However, while I was in the middle of those things I had been practically knocked off of the playing board! Now how was I to make up or regain those lost spaces? I began to keep count of them. For example: “Today was a huge raise!” or “ Oh that was your tropical vacation time.” Seeing thesethings go by was infuriating. It no longer became a question of how to make those things up, but I was fed up. Iconcluded that if the massive stroke was an actual person I would exact brutal revenge on them,and likely go to prison for it. Escaping thoughts of my decreasing value as I aged and the seeming loss of my prime years became like treating a disease,using continued treatments. In the form of reassurance and ignoring it as much as possible. If there is a lesson to be learned in all of this I’m still not sure of it, and I wonder, “What prizes will I gain when I finally get to the finish line?