“The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure but from hope to hope.”
I had a telephone conversation with another quadriplegic this week, who was introduced to me through a friend. This individual had been paralyzed as a result of a swimming accident seven years ago. As we discussed how our lives have changed since our injuries, I was struck by a particular statement this individual made.
“I am waiting and hoping for a cure.”
On the surface, those words seem completely reasonable and expected from someone living with a high level spinal cord injury. However, as I reflected on this statement, I was reminded about something a respiratory therapist once told me about 3 AM as I laid in a hospital bed awaiting a breathing treatment. The words this RT spoke to me also revolved around hope.
“Hope is just a bunch of hot air.”
When you think about it, these words are also accurate. We can’t see hope, we can’t hold it, we can’t create it, at least not enough to make it a tangible item. The reality is hope is something we conjure up in our hearts and heads to help us confront or cope with situations that may arise in our lives. I’m not writing this post to speak out against hope. In fact, I am a very strong believer in hope and feel it is vital to have hope when dealing with a traumatic situation such as an SCI.
But hope is not enough. I have always said that every individual needs to constantly work hard towards bettering his or her situation and not just sit around “waiting and hoping” for circumstances to change. Sometimes things do change for the better by themselves, and that is great and something to be thankful for. But more often than not, things don’t change without some type of inertia behind them. I recently came across a message in my e-mail inbox that discussed this very concept much more eloquently than I could. The message read as follows:
“You’ll find lots of inspiring posts that suggest you hold onto hope against all odds and push through difficult times with your eye on a light down the road. This isn’t one of them. Sometimes hope is a beautiful thing. It can motivate, empower, and inspire you when you’re tempted to give up. But other times it just keeps you stuck. When you push through today for a better tomorrow, without doing anything to create that new possibility, your hope creates the illusion of change to come.
“When you hold onto the past, hoping to revive a relationship, situation, or time that’s come and gone, your hope precludes even better possibilities in the present. When you hope you’ll someday know happiness—when you get the right relationship, the right job, the right adventure—your hope allows you to avoid reality. And it makes it unlikely that you’ll ever know happiness since hope for something else is the only way you know to experience it.
“We all want to feel happy. We all want to avoid feeling pain. That’s what makes hope so exciting. It divorces us from the moment and projects us immediately into something better. It allows us the freedom to close our eyes and imagine a world far better than the one we think we know. Hope is comforting, but not always empowering. Hope may give you possibilities in tomorrow, but belief gives you possibilities now.
“When you believe you can be happy regardless of what you gain or achieve, you open your eyes and find reasons to feel and share joy. When you believe you can have something better, you take responsibility for creating it, starting in this moment. When you believe you’re complete, even if you don’t feel good in any given moment, you challenge yourself to think beyond your emotions, and remember the larger picture. You can hope yourself into a corner, waiting for tomorrow to improve. Or you can believe your way onto center stage, and create that tomorrow you want. It starts right now.”
For me, hope is a part of my daily recipe for living, but it is just a part of it. There are so many other traits I feel it necessary to possess in order to reach my full potential. I certainly welcome all forms of serendipity, but also realize that I am the catalyst for my own change.
And speaking of change, my mother and I took a quick trip into downtown Cleveland today to see some of the changes and transformations that have recently occurred as a result of the filming taking place. For those of you who don’t know, Hollywood has temporarily invaded Cleveland to film scenes for next year’s summer blockbuster,” The Avengers.” Supposedly, about 25% of the movie will be filmed in Cleveland and other Ohio suburbs. They are using the downtown streets and buildings façades to mimic New York City streets and a few landmarks in Stuttgart, Germany. It was pretty neat to see all the excitement taking place around Public Square. There have been a lot of explosions, screening people, toppled cars, etc. at least more than the usual, with the exception of the streets of Columbus after an OSU/Michigan football game.
I will be back downtown Saturday for a music festival that some of my friends are participating in. It is supposed to be hot and humid and a great day to be on the banks of Lake Erie. I need to take advantage of these days whenever I can, because they come and go so quickly and I never seem to get enough.
I have attached a copy of an interview I did for “Global Forum” magazine a few weeks ago. You can access it by clicking on the below link:
Finally, I would ask you to hold in your hearts a special prayer request for someone very close to me whose health is compromised for the time being. I also want to thank you for your continued prayers for myself and the others I have asked you to pray for. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I tell you how much your prayer and support is appreciated. They are nice complements to the “hope” we all hold in our hearts.