This is the story of my horrid end of part one of my life and the beginning of a new one, a big continuous lesson called the life after; part two if you may like.
I am sitting on my desk laughing my head off because of Tim, the office joke. He finds everything funny and never misses to raise humor even out of a deadly hurricane. Sometimes I feel I owe him the joy of being at work despite the pain of deadlines and the stress of our boss. He undoubtedly lords it over people around, looking over whatever work you are doing as if he understands programs codes written in C++ or even Java script.
My work place is heaven on earth,
a bed of beautiful roses,
beautiful with delicate scent wafting about
the bed you jump into and you slumber
where the reveries there-in are heavenly and bliss
I should add
The bed of roses whose thorn IS Mr. McGrath
He is the stone in OUR shoes and all we can do is to endure through it all, but laugh it off whenever a chance was presented.
I am a system developer and network administrator. I used to move around a lot, high-fiving everybody I met on my way to checking their workstations or the kitchen or on way in or out. I relocated from our head office in Toronto to our smaller branches in Calgary. I was light on my feet, whenever I could, I would break into a dance with some of my colleagues. These little acts of madness as Mr. McGrath would say made our work lighter and the days at work shorter and fun.
One day, 3 years ago I decided to help out Tim set up a computer network in a new building. It was a fairly easy job because it involved installing Wi-Fi routers in a number of places in the building then later configuring their software. We had imagined that the work would take us five hours to complete. One hour into the work, I slid off a rung of the ladder I was using. I tried to steady myself a little but I aggravated the situation totally, for I fell off the ladder and hit a chair on my way down. I hurt my back but I thought it could not be anything serious. Well, I could not feel my legs or wriggle my toes as usual. So alarm bells went off in my head, very loud I almost yelled but I calmed myself saying it is going to be alright given that this is just as a result of the shock. An ambulance arrived a short while later, was taken to Foothills Hospital because it was the nearest from where we were working. After a series of tests, it was announced to me that I will have to be confined to a wheel chair for a while. It left me speechless. How will I live without my legs, how will I dance or drive or even hug my friends? Will I need another person to assist me bathe or use the washrooms?
I had six weeks of counseling. It felt more like what I had heard in church for a long long time. That it is not the end of the world when we fall into adverse times but a new beginning always awaits. I had heard it said that when one door is shut, another one will be opened. That is a nice narrative but to the victim it feels much more like salt and pepper to a wound. I was told a lot of things and by a lot of people but the last nail on the coffin of my past came through a report from the Hospital. The last conclusive tests revealed that my spinal cord had been severed by one of the fractured discs and it was possible I would ever walk again.
That was it. I decided to rise up in my mind and spirit. I refused to be a test subject for psychologists or counselors or even friends and relatives. I visited my counselor and asked for a session, she asked if anything was the trouble. I laughed as I made myself comfortable right opposite her. I told her my grandfather’s story. I visited my grandparents once when I was 14 years old. They lived near Edmonton in a vast farm. In summer the prairies were alive with butterflies and wild flowers. There is nothing that can describe the moments of cheer and fun, playing hide and seek or catch me if you can. We would role in the grass down the slope or weave the tall grass to make houses. Summers there, were numinous. My grandfather was old and very cheerful all the time but my grandmother was ever quiet and seemed aloof. We loved her that way but the fun was with the witty granddad. He played jokes on us but taught us a lot at the same time. There is a time we were setting off for hike in the woods but out of nowhere, rain fell, and heavily so. I was sad and infuriated about it but he called out to me and asked me “son, how much do you know about tomorrow?” I said nothing except that it is going to be Tuesday. He laughed then said whatever tomorrow gives you, receive it and make happiness out of it. That made me think for a long time and when I finally understood it, I decided never to be surprised by anything. Whatever comes my way, bad, good, very good or tragic, that will be the raw material for me to make happiness of it. Franklin D. Roosevelt became president even though he was bound to a wheelchair. How terrible and tragic that he was in a disadvantaged position at a time when a STRONG man was needed to help the world at WAR? Well, he made light of that work for he found out that limitation is only in the mind; you are defeated if you are defeated in your mind and yes, you are a victor when you win in your mind. Circumstances change, we adapt and stay on top. Situations and people change, we move forward and acquire new friends and skills.
I was ready to exit the counselor’s office but noticed that she looked disconcerted. I had a pill for that, I asked her “Ma’am, how much will you pay for my services today?” She looked at me and laughed. I knew my anti-perturbed pill had worked so I added lightly “Whenever a person comes to you broken, do not go around about it, just say you are broken badly, how do you want to come out of this? Scattered, irreconcilable or gathered and whole?” With that, I left.
Now to part two.
Having that sense of fight, I left the counselor’s office and went to the hospital. I needed to know if there was anything else required of me and if I had more options with the wheelchair. I was excited with latter’s prospects; I could get a very adaptable wheelchair, one that would give me a sense of freedom. Can you imagine I could press a button and it would make me stand straight up? It speeds up and down the street yet was very stable. I purchased it though it left a gaping hole in my savings. The controls were remarkable and for me it felt like a chariot, so I christened it Chariot of Fire.
I had to learn to drive a vehicle with my hands only, another new achievement. The experience was not great at the beginning but when I got the hang of it, there was nothing as exciting. Can you picture driving your SUV seated on your favorite couch? That is the point. Walking up and down the street has been another memorable experience, or what would you call gliding on a chariot as opposed to galloping or running? There is no feeling like that especially when you are racing with your friends.
I told you I was a systems developer and network administrator. I dropped the network administration completely and now only concentrate on developing great softwares. I used to travel to a few cities, near Calgary but now I find myself going as far as Europe. I found myself on the chariot of fire and I now glide the world.
The beginning of a good life can only end with the beginning of a greater life. The end of great work can only ignite the onset of mighty and excellent work. I found my new bright candle at work and now Tim, my friend found his, when your light shines, you help others find theirs. Whenever am in the office, all I see, all I perceive is admiration. They even forget that am stuck on the chariot of fire. Once I needed my blinds fixed and a colleague suggested to go do it myself without realizing what she was asking me to do and if I was able to do it. If I had not accepted the challenge thrown me by fate, turned it to happiness, I would definitely have made everybody else gloomy and somnolent.