“The Fifth Element”-Love’s Surrender, Will Power, and SCI

Today, I’m correlating the similarity of a fictitious character’s hesitation to change to those of us living with a disability, disease, or illness who do the same.

In “The Fifth Element,” a sci-fi movie set in the 23rd century, in order to defeat a great evil, there were four stones and a sarcophagus, containing a ‘fifth element,’ left for safe-keeping in an Egyptian temple. This fifth element was DNA representing the “Divine Light.” The stones represented the four elements—earth, wind, fire, and water.

The DNA is turned into the “state” lab where it is transformed into human form, Leeloo. She escapes, is rescued by Dallas, a former special forces Major who is now a taxicab driver. Soon, he presents her to a priest who recognizes her as earth’s savior. The battle to save earth ensues.

After battling the opposing evils to confiscate the stones, Dallas, Leeloo, and the priest return to the Egyptian temple to arrange the captured stones and release Leeloo’s ’Divine Light.’ When their efforts to unite the elements appear hopeless and Leeloo is slipping away from discouragement, a confession of love from Dallas causes Leeloo to surrender her love to him. As she yields, the power of ‘The Light’ melds with the other elements, explodes, and destroys the Great Evil.

Like-kind, how often do we, living with a disability, resist change, something new or unfamiliar, due to fear and discouragement? Whether it’s the uncertain territory of SCI or a life interruption that has overwhelmed you; being uprooted for a job promotion to face the unknown; a financial decision or business investment that could lead you into economic ruin; even the uncertainty of commitment to a new relationship. Fear can hold us back, blinding us to the light of opportunity, robbing us of purpose and fulfillment.

I try to stay positive and open-minded to change. “Flexibility” is my middle name. Both my books espouse the benefits of embracing change. But, I also have a “Someday” wish/fear. It’s an entrepreneurial venture that, ever so often, peaks its scary face into my consciousness.

I’m not inexperienced in business. I’ve been invested in several. But, this “wish/fear” is a larger-than-my-past-business-venture budgets. It’s a BIG BUT-get!

But, I will get it! The chapter, “Facing Fears,” in Views From My Chariot http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html is about facing three of my past fears, all ramifications of my SCI. I’m forthright about other fears and failures in HOW TO BE THE BEST YOU http://booklocker.com/books/6811.html . I totally understand using denial and rationalizations to avoid the unpredictable. In time, after using these excuses over and over and over, they’re stretched so thinly that I can finally see through them to the ‘Divine light of possibility.’

Just as Leeloo’s surrender to Dallas’ love released the power to defeat The Great Evil, conquering “the great evil” of whatever fear (disability-related, or not) is causing you worry, anxiety, and trepidation will release your power, as well.


Worth, Value, and Nostalgia

Disability aside, have you ever hitched a ride or picked up a hitchhiker? Whether for a single mile to get gas for your/their empty tank or for a thrilling cross-country trek, you know a bad ride.

And, if you have ever been the host ride for the tenacious cockle burr, you know the aggravation and pain of these small ½-inch long, brown burred seeds with sharp, hooked spines. They are hitchhikers from hell, traveling the world by stealthily sticking to your clothing and/or your pet’s fur! My bloody fingers have felt like pin cushions after unwinding my Irish Setter’s long silky hair from their snare.

What made me think of hitchhiking? A math compass from a drafting course I took in the 1800s (a little before my SCI) that has mysteriously found its way to my keyboard tray. How is it that some things stick with us after high school and college graduations through multiple storages, transfers, uproots, marriage, and divorce?

What greater worth does a 6-inch metal math compass have over a luxuriously overstuffed, expensive upholstered chair that I left in one of my moves! For that matter, a couch in another? Nostalgia.

Before living with a disability, I used to love browsing through hardware stores. Yes, small town hardware stores! They reek of yesteryear. I loved the feel and smell of suede gloves, the fantasy of an overstuffed and oft’ used tool belt, puzzling assortments of hammers with every length and shape of nail, drawers of miscellaneous pulls and knobs, every type of rake and hoe…which brings me to Goldie.

Goldie was an avid gardener. She nurtured fields of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. She canned, pickled, and/or froze the produce, even pressed and dried her flowers. But, what most impressed me was her hoe. Yes, her garden hoe.

It was the only hoe she had ever used, was almost as old as she was, and boasted a filed down 2-inch blade, compared to its initial 3 1/4-inch depth! To maintain its best hoeing self, she sharpened it after each season’s use.

I grew up on a farm and we always had a garden; but, I had never known anyone like Goldie who took such care of their hoe. I thought her attention to its excellence was as extreme as my dad’s cleaning of his firearms after each hunt. The seed was sown. I wanted a hoe to cherish. I wanted to wield it for as long as Goldie had. Goldie was the inspiration for my first organic garden.

At twenty-six, I prepared, composted, hoed, planted, groomed, irrigated, and cultivated that garden. Its greatest yield was two dozen pints of hot chow-chow/relish. (My dad called it “pea ruiner.”) Disappointingly, bugs got the Brussels sprouts and broccoli; my Irish Setter got the cantaloupes and watermelons. When they were mere hardball size, he picked them for lone games of toss and catch!

As destiny would have it, I experienced a SCI before the next planting. My hoe blade was never sharpened. But, my metal math compass has inexplicably made its way to my keyboard tray. For a finger function substitute, I use its sharp point as a flip-top opener for sodas and juices. That’s its helpful function.

With every pro, there’s a con. The “con” of its sharp point: piercing one of these tin cans! The carbonated contents of a Sierra Mist spewed four feet onto the nearest wall—showering its ant attracting sugar across papers, files, books, and bills—until the liquid level fell below the can’s pierce. I finally wised up midway through its geyser and tilted the can away from the wall to lower the liquid’s level and stop its display.

No matter. It’s my little nostalgic hitchhiker treasure of bygone days. It’s not a sharpened hoe blade, but it makes its point.

SCI Bonus Serendipities

In the SCI community, we’re familiar with most professional’s prognosis for expected return: Whatever return you’re going to have, you’ll have by the second year. Anything else is a bonus. “Bonus” is the optional—left to personal choice—word.

For many, this is a disappointing truth. But for a large majority, serendipitous bonuses continue to surprise us for many years post injury!

Until I joined Apparelyzed http://www.apparelyzed.com/disability-directory/disability-forums-chat/, I had no idea of the number of happy, productive wheelchair warriors there were like me. I’m a young whippersnapper of 37 years post-injury compared to some 45, 50, and 60+ years post-injury; most of them, still happily and positively contributing to society.

I didn’t know the importance of SCI like-mindedness: the nonjudgmental acceptance of normal depression, grief, and denial following a life trauma; an understanding sounding board to rant—to cleanse the emotions in a safe environment; to learn from others’ similar or like experiences, and how-to cope with such.

I didn’t know the importance of annual evaluations by my spinal cord injury and rehabilitation doctor, or even wheelchair and cushion evaluations from a SCI-specialized PT.

Late in the game, I’ve learned a lot from those contributing on this forum. I’ve learned that many others have also earned bonuses of increased muscular strength, movement, and sensation (my sensation continues to improve after this long!); urinary and bowel control or a maintenance program; having children and grandchildren; achieving professional/financial success; living a wonderful life.

No matter the circumstance, the best medicine for long-lasting mental and physical health, as well as productivity is: having an empathetic and understanding ear to talk to, a sunny outlook, a full calendar, and faithful maintenance of our body and lifestyle.

We’re not the creators of our bodies, but I believe the more we know about them, understand their hints and hitches, envision and profess our hopes for them/our future, and optimistically work toward their fulfillment, the greater our bonuses!

Yes. In time, we will face one or more repercussions of SCI. Meantime, what we do with our abilities—imagination, determination, hope, and faith—assuredly makes a difference.

I wish a long life of serendipitous bonuses to you all!

Would you like to share a few of yours?

http://booklocker.com/books/6235.html (Views From My Chariot) 

http://booklocker.com/books/6811.html (HOW TO BE THE BEST YOU)

Do You Know…

Have you ever felt like life was out of your control? Do you feel alone, forgotten, robbed of purpose and worth? Don’t fall for it! It’s far from the truth.

Beneath His wings

Beneath His wings

Sometimes, circumstances scream “Powerless!” at us. If you believe it, you are. If you don’t, herein lies your true power.

Remember the Christmas classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life?” George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) is a frustrated businessman with compromised dreams from personal sacrifices. Finding himself in a desperate financial strait, thoughts of his unworthiness, thoughts that he should have never been born, drive him to consider suicide. Then his guardian angel, Clarence, shows him how his nonexistence would have negatively affected the residents of Bedford Falls. This movie is a vivid reminder of the malevolence of self-doubt.

We can all suffer from its destructive, indoctrinating effects IF we listen to its lies, which brings me to “What The Bleep Do You Know!?” www.whatthebleep.com  (Bookmark this to watch when you’re seriously ready for an awakening.)

It’s part documentary, part story, and part visual effects illustrating how science and religion merge, explaining the interconnectedness of all things.

As Amanda’s (Academy award winner Marlee Matlin, also living with a disability: deafness) uninspired life unravels from relationship woes, she’s thrown into a revelatory wormhole challenging her thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions. Her epiphany is that she is the master of her thoughts, actions, and destiny.  http://www.whatthebleep.com/bleep/synopsis/

It’s true you’re human, living an earthly existence, ‘tthough you needn’t succumb to its rule over you. Challenge the status quo. Rise above those fatalistic thoughts concerning circumstances you’re finding difficult…and your abilities to rise above them. All things are possible.

There are times that I, too, feel forgotten. That’s when a hug is required. That’s exactly what I said one day. I shared the following experience in my memoir, Views From My Chariot: A Wheelchair Oddity )

“God, I need a hug.

I heard, “Come outside.”

It was a sunny, early fall morning. My home is wrapped with woods on three sides, and there was stillness all around, a palpable quietness. Silhouetted trees and dappled sunlight highlighted the blanket of fallen autumn leaves. I took in a deep breath of tranquility. Instantly, I heard rustlings to my right.

I looked over and up to see the top of a lone tree begin a dervish whirl, waving its branches and clapping its leaves off in twirling descents. For the longest time, I beheld the dance. Then I closed my eyes and joined in until the song was over. It was better than a hug.

You know, you can remain as you are or you can lift yourself up and out. You can rise above any challenging circumstance with your attitude and confession. You are the creative force in your life.

You’re special. You’re one of-a-kind, unique as your fingerprint. God intimately fashioned you in His image, with the same creative power as Himself.

Do you know that He knows your name? When is the last time you called on His?