As the 10-year anniversary of my accident just passed, I have had many memories of that fateful day; feelings of hopelessness and despair, knowing I could no longer accomplish my dreams. Those close to me could see that I was falling deeper and deeper into a state of depression.
I was having one such day when my dad came in and brought a tape for me to watch. I was reluctant at first. The last thing I wanted to do was lay there and watch a movie; but I had little choice in the matter, so I agreed.
The name of the video was called “The Impossible Just Takes a Little Longer” by Art Berg. I thought to myself – great - a motivational movie. Just what I don’t want to see right now.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was one of those defining moments in one’s life that you hear about, but seldom think will happen to you.
Art was a quadriplegic - just like me. Only he wasn’t ‘just like me’. The first time I watched it, I couldn’t tell you one thing he said. I was too busy watching his movements; how could he contort his body by stretching and twisting? I immediately noticed his hands – they looked like mine.
Our hands were the same. Our bodies were the same. However, there were some things that were different. Art was smiling. I wasn’t. He was laughing. I wasn’t. But what struck me most was that this guy was happy. I was not.
A few weeks later, Art ‘rolls’ into my hospital room – in a manual wheelchair, not electric! His hands are clenched; his fingers curled into his palms. He wheels over to my bed, picks himself up out of his chair and throws himself onto my bed.
I had no idea at that time that a quadriplegic could transfer himself, unaided, from chair to bed. How did he do it? He had no stomach muscles, no chest muscles, no hands, and no forearms.
He didn’t stop there. He unbuttoned his shirt and unhooked his belt with a small wire-like looking tool. He removed some of this clothing and, after doing so, redressed himself. He then transferred back to his chair and pulled out a copy of his book, “Some Miracles Just Take a Little Longer.” After he signed it, he gave it to me, smiled, and then left.
I knew he was a motivational speaker from watching his video. He wasn’t getting paid for this life-altering performance. He did it out of the goodness of his heart. He was teaching and inspiring me – off the speaker’s platform. He challenged me to challenge my own beliefs, particularly, belief in myself.
For the next nine months, I stayed in close contact with Art. I would send him emails daily, asking all kinds of questions. He answered every email. We spent time together.
Nine months later, he passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. No one was more shocked than I. This incredible man who blew into my life like a thunder storm was – just as suddenly – gone.
His death was a heartbreaking tragedy, but his message of encouragement and example of living life stayed with me.
Maybe that’s what we should all do. Inspire others to challenge their own limiting beliefs, giving them confidence and hope.
“The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.”