As we are bombarded by the media with stories about success, riches and the fortunes of others, it is natural for us as humans to look at the people in those fairy tales, compare them with our own lives and try to find the advantages those folks have over us. No, it’s not something most of us are going to say out loud during a cocktail party, but it is usually something we think about from time to time as the news embellishes the life of another celebrity. Even I have done it and it has been done to me. Yes, jealously can be harsh, but it can also be the greatest motivator.
Anyway, when the news stories of my return to the police department in 2006 hit the Associated Press over 8 years ago now, people by the dozens from around the country and Canada contacted me to find out what I did to overcome my amputation and ultimately get back to life, all while keeping a positive attitude–which is not exactly the truth. And I made it a point to personally contact each one of them at least once to talk about my story and offer encouragement. But even as I reached out to all those people, I still had about 1 in 3 try to point out what advantages I had over them and why I was successful while they were still struggling. And honestly, when I heard people completely disregard my two and a half years of not walking, 38 surgeries I had to endure, hundreds of hours of physical therapy and a near miss with a divorce, I tended to lose interest in the conversation.
I for one know I busted my butt to reach the goal of returning to my job as a cop and to getting back to living. When I also told them that my own experience taught me that overcoming my tragedy was 95 percentage mental and 5 percent physical, they simple ignored my “secret” and continued to unknowingly insult me by telling me how I had it better than them. Now, I would be a complete fool to think that my access to a good prosthetist and overwhelming support from my family wasn’t an advantage, but let’s face it, if you are living in America, the MAJORITY of people also have these advantages as well, if they take the time to find a good prosthetist and work to continue to foster a good relationship with their family. Yes, I was bummed out and depressed, and yes, I too almost faced an unnecessary divorce, like so many other amputees have as well, but either way I was going to succeed, married or not, working or not, or confined to a wheel (like my doctors told me my fate would become so many times early on) or not. I decided that regardless of what Life tossed at me, I was going to overcome the obstacles the best I knew how and still enjoy my life since I still had one.
Simply put, I decided to be great. I would be great despite my hardships, and I would be great regardless of my working or marital status. I would be great whether I walked again or not. After all, people are really less impressed by the tale an over-pampered movie star or athlete than they are about that “normal” individual who refused to give up despite riding out the perfect shit storm in their life. Understandable that is why biographies about human survival and perseverance trumps out any other type of story every time. We can decide to be great, limbless or not. It is a decision we have, it is an option left in life. It is something that nothing other than death can take away from us. Remember that the next time you feel like you have no control! We decide, no one else. Decide to be great and your life will follow suit.
Until next time,