-Tom Olin

A Different Way Of Being

I've lived a charmed life blessed to do the many things I've come to know over the years, brought up by parents kind enough to want to spoil me with all they never grew up with. Fate fortuned I would never have to struggle hard to acquire meal, clothes, or comfortable lodging. They worked incessantly, disciplined themselves all their lives, living honestly, and pushing for all they'd acquired. I love them for their grand example and gracious love, for always accepting me for who I am.

Physical disability though a challenged endeavor is by no means the end of opportunistic living. Everyone will experience obstacle to daily routine. Even saints have limitations, challenges to temper lesson in this world. Breaking my neck was a wake up call, a slap in the face, what are you up to when you know where you should be leading moment from here. Now I feel fortunate to have clear understanding on what I should do with what time I have in this realm remaining.

Whether with or without disability, we have choice only to live fully in instance, or not. All are getting older fading moment with no promise of future morrow. No moment to waste, no second to lose, this is first and last each moment for me and I cannot hope to convey any greater message than live every moment as if it is all you have, no other possibility left in this Earthwalk. Life has no ordinary occurrence, and deserves more than idle conscious.
Disability like forced meditation, challenges soul to find, locate something authentic outside of what people term 'normal' decree. Moments of gauche tragedy force us to question belief systems, observance to what we consider real, what truly matters, and which issues in life hold significance. Everyone at some time in life will face moments one is unsure of surviving; when breathe is stolen, tears fountain like rain, pain like no words can describe owns your being. It's part of the process.

We can easily spend lifetimes wandering entertained by outside persuasion, evading center until finally moment compromises invulnerability, and the body nearing mortality experiences the beyond, and in that instance we question the relevance of life choices and other possibilities.
Reality checks are death reminding us there is really not enough time to do everything you want, so you do what you can with what time you have now; weighing that some things are hardly worth holding on to.

Life flashing before ones eyes is that center when so many thoughts of chaos rule mind, emotions touch on desperate, and all one wants is second chance. Disability is second chance. It is difficult to understand that when all one wants is somewhere to hide, to be alone, to stop the flood of outside stimuli, and people entering room saying everything's going to be alright. I've been there, unable to escape or hide; I lay there watching, witnessing the unfolding before me unsure of what was next and where to from here.
This is the road less traveled, but traveled still and boldly, courageously, beautifully by some. All people have issues, things they're working on to determine self-definition. Everyone at sometime will wonder- how do I get past the first gate to the darkness beyond? How do I satisfy soul purpose in this broken state of body? Always right where we need be, don't beat yourself up with what may have been, had you done something different. That was then this is now. Now is happening before you inviting you into its grasp.

Unsuspectingly thrown into strange world, forced to redefine life and schedule; I pray you find peace quickly these moments of initial shattering and that some semblance of pleasure returns to your living. Families, friends, neighbors, associates, all those around will be hugely impacted, especially in beginning when one learns how much paralysis or disability affects every aspect of life. Remember then, everyone has barriers placed before them in life, birth gives us that privilege. Barriers hold some for some time, keeping us from going further, but at some point all must make decision to simply go on; accepting to make the best of situation.

My hope with this work is save you some of the heartache and pain, associated with initiation into spinal cord injury especially quadriplegia. I endear to show you that there is light at the end of the tunnel and if you can't crawl to get there, do as Mark said find someone to share struggle along way. Interdependence and cooperation is a huge part of this new way of being.
In sharing hope, we can help one another dissipate some of the pain and frustration disability can breed. May disability become for you like it is now for me, just 'A Different Way Of Being.' May this book settle some of the carnage, associated to enduring great loss. Those of you overwhelmed in the deepest depression, trust I have been there and have survived beautifully. Getting to where I am now is process. If you are at beginning now trudge on. Having gone through it myself, these poems reflect my evolution through very real moments of human challenge, where fate contends live anew in wake of past experience.

Disability has evolved me through some very intense moments, teaching me lessons of patience and perseverance that demanded my slowing down, reevaluating life, and reassessing living. Determination will decide if you can find comfort in similar circumstance. Be where you feel you are and let no other dictate where you feel you need to be. Take your time in transformation. Arctic butterflies take years to cocoon their wings. You will develop your own way. This road is but an extension of a branch leading us all to the same place. Namaste.

Zen Garcia 10-14-2002 Injured 09-24-1994

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