It was Saturday morning and I decided to visit the local park where an open-air Craft Market was taking place. Usually when I visit this park the dogs have a wonderful time interacting with the squirrels and running freely, but because of the current activities they needed to be restrained on their leads out of respect for the other both the exhibitors and the visitors.
A Special Spontaneous Interaction
Walking around viewing the selection of home-made goodies and crafts, my lean and good looking Whippets drew the attention of many of the visitors. One young woman was particularly impressed with my dogs and spent some time admiring their sleek coats and patting them. Standing a short distance behind her, I noticed her companion – a young man who was standing supported by some very specialised looking crutches. This sight piqued my curiosity and I turned to him and inquired, “What happened to you?” “Oh, I broke my neck three years ago.” he casually reports. As I look at him standing with the aid these specialised orthopaedic structures my thought was, “But, surely there is something wrong with your legs!” After a further enquiry he then went on to explain. “It happened three years ago. I fell off my motor bike. For many months I just lay on my back without being able to do anything. I was in hospital for nearly six months. Now I go daily for therapy and do regular exercises to regain my muscle tone.”
What I was now interested to learn was whether he was at this stage able to play the role of breadwinner for his family. I learned he runs his own computer company and is planning to be riding a motor bike by the end of the year. “You should become a motivational speaker,” I ventured. Justin then went on to tell me about the personal growth he had sustained during his recovery period. Whilst not actually saying he was glad this shocking accident had happened, he indicated that his individual growth and emotional maturity had been enhanced during the sustained and disciplined recovery period he had endured.
My Friend’s Son
This brought back a memory I held from many years ago. A good friend of mine had to nurture her three year old son after he sustained a spinal injury when he was knocked over by a lorry. The resulting surgery required the insertion of a steel rod to support the spine of her young son. Post-operative rehabilitation followed for many months and years, requiring specialised daily attention from both parents. It meant daily exercises and the patient had to tolerate much pain and discomfort. What struck me was the sober reflections of his mother who reported to me how many wonderful people she had met during her son’s rehabilitation and recovery from the injury, as well as how much emotional growth the family had achieved as a result of this unfortunate incident.
And now my Story
I broke my anterior cruciate ligament in my right knee whilst playing tennis in 1991, which resulted in major surgery followed by a rigorous rehabilitation program. Nearly thirty years later I am realising what a gift this accident has been. Part of the exercise program following surgery was the daily riding of a stationary bicycle. To this day I have maintained this practice and exercise on the bicycle and in the swimming pool at the gym two or three times a week. I also maintain my balance by using the Boso Ball (see illustration above!) Not only has my knee held out allowing me to play tennis in the ninth decade of my life, but I have maintained a degree of fitness far greater than any of my contemporaries.
It is not what Happens – It is how you Deal with it!
These stories reinforce my conviction that art of living a healthy lifestyle is having the capacity to translate our accidents and hardships into lessons of emotional and physical growth and well-being. Even mishaps can become opportunities for growth as these incidents demonstrate