Saturday, August 10, 2013

Reflecting Back

A weird thought just crossed my mind. I am up on the roof, I just finished listening to an audio book and I was just getting ready to write this passage for my blog when I thought I would rest this notebook on my bent legs while I write.

Sometimes I have strange thoughts like that, temporarily forgetting I  no longer have legs that bend which used to enable me to rest a notebook or anything else upon them. Occasionally I will catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and the reality of my loss hits me head on in my reflection.

Losing a limb is something that never goes away; sure we meet our challenges boldly and with as much bravery as we can muster but then something like your reflection will stare back at you with harsh permanence, sometimes shaking you to your core.

Although I am a staunch believer in living life in the present, I can't help but remember back on what once was. I ran across some old photos the other day and I saw a picture I had taken of Bill and I on the Amtrak train trip we had taken across the country in 2003.

In this particular photo I had taken, there was a portion of the picture which contained an image of my naked right foot.

All of this may seem silly or perhaps sad as you read these words, but it is all a part of limb loss. It is  not unlike losing a loved one, the occasional anxiety we may feel at the possibility that we may forget what the person looked like or the sound of their voice. Losing  a part of you body is much the same, anxiety or sadness about forgetting what our feet, ankles, calves or my case knee caps looked like or how it felt to see them.

I was talking to my friend Paul  on the phone the other day and he was telling  me about a guest speaker he had heard recently at a Rotary Club meeting. Paul went on to say this man, who was also a bilateral above knee amputee, gave a very inspirational speech about his drive to become a baseball coach.

After the man had finished speaking, Paul had an opportunity to talk with him personally. One of the things the man said to Paul, that gave Paul pause, was the fact he, the man who had spoken, considered himself to be lucky. Paul said to me upon recalling this talk, that he was finding it hard to understand how this man could consider himself to be lucky.

I told Paul I completely understand how the man might feel because I, myself, consider myself to be lucky, in some ways also. Granted losing your limbs is not lucky in and of itself, however, through my limb loss I have met a lot of other people who are afflicted with illnesses, both physically and mentally, that are far more debilitating than my limb loss.

Like everything in life, it is all relative to where you find your yourself at a particular time, what your life experiences have been, and most importantly, how you have chosen to deal with what life has dealt.

When on those occasions, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and see that  one third of my body is missing, it is still a shock, sometimes, even after five years.You want with all your heart for it to be one long bad dream, from which one day you will awaken and you will be physically complete again.

But alas, you know that will never happen in this lifetime and you instead refocus your energy toward the more positive aspects of life and feel thankful for what you do have.

There is nothing wrong with reflecting back on what once was, as long as we do it lovingly and without malice, ever aware that part of what once was, is part of what makes us who we are today.

We cannot change the past, what we once were, or what happened to change us, nor can we change what might happen in the future, we are only able to affect out present.

Our present is actually the only real thing that exists and we should strive to make the most of it, after all, this present moment will as soon as we think about it become our past.

Making the most of our present moment and living life as consciously as possible, will ensure that we honestly did the very best that we could, the best we knew how, and we can't really expect more from ourselves than our best.

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