My friend John recently told me I was an inspiration, but others have previously said it as well. Although his kind words humble me, I do not feel like an inspirational person as I have only done things others frequently do. Yet, my friend explained I have a great attitude and jovial disposition even after conquering adversities precariously placed in my path. For example, was it the 5k I did in my wheelchair proving to a buddy who all but dared me to take on such a courageous conquest? Or was it the eight miles I swam without the aid of my lethargic lower limbs to raise money for a charity that causes me the continual compliments. Maybe it was leaving the US Marine Corps a disabled vet and not letting that stop me, as some before me have done. John shared that those things and others gave him these feelings of revelation, motivation, and adoration.
I explained to John that I was not trying to impress or motivate anyone but simply do what I needed to live my life to the fullest. I know several non-disabled people who sit on the couch making excuses while watching kids grow, friends go, and life blow. I do not want life to pass me by, plus my monstrous MS malady has gotten worse every time I sit too long in one place. I do not feel like an inspirational person but let me share a few stories of those who inspire me. These individuals motivate me to keep moving forward and allow nothing to put a horrific halt or hamper on my headway.
A soldier named Travis Mills came back from the Iraq war after an IED explosion incident. He was the fourth quadruple amputee who came back from this war, and although he was lost mentally briefly, he quickly got it together. Most would have understood if he played the sympathy card upon his return; however, that is far from the case. With his wife and family by his side, currently, he does more in one day than most of us do in several days. He speaks with all returning veterans, mainly focusing on the severely wounded, showing what a positive attitude can do. He has an exercise training regimen rivaled only by die-hard fitness trainers. He also wrote a book sharing his life story and does book signings showing no signs of slowing.
There is another man who was on the X-Factor named Immanuel, who is physically debilitated and unsure of his birthday. Immanuel and his brother were born in the war-torn country of Iraq, where a nun found them in a shoebox. They were adopted by an Australian family who showed them the love and affection they deserved as infants. Even though he is ambulatory, his legs and arms are not in great physical shape, although his smile puts most to shame. Nevertheless, he stood on the X-Factor stage with a slight tilt and great lilt and sang a beautiful rendition of Imagine by John Lennon. Faced with life’s difficulties, he stood up and stood out when so many would have hidden in the house.
Another person who inspires me is Kenya Sesser, a woman born in Thailand with no legs. She was an abandoned baby left on the steps of a Buddhist temple in Pak Chong, where monks raised her for the first two years of her life. After four years of foster care at six, Kenya was adopted by an American couple living in Oregon. Now living in Venice Beach, CA, she has a resume that puts others to shame, including modeling, acting, surfing, skateboarding, and being a Paralympics athlete. Sesser shows how a can-do attitude can get you very far in life when you take this brick wall of no legs and find ways around it over it or even through it. With no legs, she stands taller than most full of pride and reminds us all to look directly at our issues and say, get out of my way.
Nick Vujicic was born with no arms or legs in Melbourne, Australia, to two loving parents. Neither he nor his parents knew what kind of life Nick could even have in the early years of his life other than constant and continual care. However, his severe struggles and significant setbacks did not keep him from achieving seemingly unattainable goals. Nick Vujicic has become a powerful motivational speaker who speaks worldwide, reminding people never to give up. He has written several books and is raising four children along with his beautiful wife. When confronted with his physically challenged life, he accomplished much more than anyone could have imagined. The question he often asks his audience and I ask you now: what is your excuse?
These are just a few of the inspirational stories helping to encourage me on my road of life. There are a plethora of stories in this world of people showing true fortitude against personal hardships. If someone was inspired by something I have done or said, then I am humbled. I have been inspired by people I have met along the way, although they were also merely doing what they had to do to make it. Life threw a monkey wrench into their lives, and they regrouped and reengaged to accomplish their goals. I feel everyone has a challenge or two pertaining to their lives, and so the question is, what are you willing to do to complete the task?
If you can’t find inspiration, be an inspiration.