Keeping Things in Perspective

It’s a common sentiment people express when presented with bad news either personally or in events that seemingly occur in the news cycle everyday.

“Well, that sure puts things in perspective.”

It’s human nature to convey such feelings. Who among us would knowingly trade places with someone who is facing difficult circumstances in their life?

Having sustained a spinal cord injury as a 17 year old nearly 33 years ago, I have experienced life’s major ups and downs just like everyone else. I have always kept a keen awareness what matters most. What is it that provides me with the strength to see things as they should be seen?

It is the people in my life who helped me get through many of those challenging periods. It is the people in my life who keep me focused and encourage me to live life to the fullest. It is the people in my life who help me to not take myself so seriously, and to laugh when I could just as easily have cried.

Living with a disability can be challenging — nobody who has a disability would doubt that. But I thrive on stressing to people who are not disabled that it is possible to lead productive lives in spite of that.

However, try as I might, there are times when the events of my life cause me to lose my way. And in those times something may occur from the most unlikely of sources that snaps me back into reality.

Recently I endured a series of health problems that led to extended hospital stays that kept me from my family for long stretches. It was difficult to remain upbeat and positive as the days dragged on with apparently no end in sight.

It was then, when I was at my lowest point, that a voice of reason forced me to look at my life in a different way. And that voice of reason belonged to my then 7-year-old son.

On one particular visit he looked me straight in the eye and asked how come I couldn’t come see him play baseball and soccer anymore. I felt as if the room would swallow me whole. Nevertheless, his innocent little question jarred me to regain a whole new outlook, which aided my recovery from that point on.

Everyone, injured or not, loses perspective at various points in their lives. It doesn’t make you a bad person – it makes you human. Whether it’s as formal as a support group, or simply keeping your eyes open to the circumstances of people around you, there is no right or wrong way. It is up to each individual to find what works for them.