"You may never walk again."
I remember those words like they were yesterday.
Your life can change in an instant, and I am the poster child for that. As a 20 year old kid, life in a wheelchair is something that never crosses your mind.
But, that was my reality on November 9, 2013.
After falling from a cliff while snowboarding in the Alberta mountains, my spine was shattered, my dreams put on hold, and my life altered.
I would take months to recover, relearning how to walk between two cold metal parallel bars.
But, I did what most will never do.
I got up from the wheelchair. I left it behind. I did what some would say is impossible. I am a walking paraplegic.
Not everyone goes through a traumatic injury, but there's little else in life that shifts your perspective in an instant.
If you can learn anything from me, it's that life is an absolute gift - a beautiful thing that we take for granted daily. So many people only see the darkness when the light is staring them right in the face. Its tragic.
I want you to see that although there's pain in life, there is tremendous good that comes from your struggles. The challenges, heartache, and losses are necessary to shape you into the person that you will ultimately become. A life without tough times isn't life, regardless of what Hollywood would have you believe, or what the newest commercial is trying to sell you.
I am going to give you 7 lessons that I learned over the last 7 years.
Perspective is Everything
In the hospital, I was obviously down. A healthy young man that suddenly can't use his legs, that's a bit of a trip. Here's the thing though: there are plenty of people that had it far worse than I did. There were people that didn't make it out of there.
I met quadriplegics, people that couldn't use any of their limbs - people that had to be spoonfed their meals, some that couldn't breathe for themselves.
I met a man that had a stroke and would never be able to speak again, his lungs had to be pumped every single night in the room right next to me.
There were people that passed away.
And here I was, being sad about not being able to use my legs?
I had it better than so many others. I even had a chance of recovery.
There was so much depression, so much giving up. I wouldn't give up.
I would do it for them, everyday of my life would be dedicated to those that wouldn't walk again.
Your Choices Lead you to Today
Everything that you choose leads you to your today. In realising this, you make better choices, because you're going to have to live with them eventually. Maybe not tomorrow or next week, but in a few years time.
I was exceptionally fit going into my injury. It is probably the only reason that I'm walking today. I made choices half a decade in advance of my injury that paid me back.
I am still making those choices today, because they saved my life.
Pain is a Necessity in Life
My relationship with pain is something that is very different than it once was. Most people run away from pain. It's my best friend. I know it will never leave me.
I remember my first shower after my injury.
I was wheeled into the shower room, the water turned on and the nerve pain was so excruciating, I cried like a baby. But, in that moment, I was reborn. I realised that there was no greater pain that I would ever go through in my life.
Now, I seek it out everywhere I go. There is nothing that makes me feel more alive than pain.
So much so that I am writing a book about the Power of Pain.
Everyone is going through something
You don't know what that person next to you is going through.
Maybe they just lost their best friend.
Maybe they are battling their own demons.
Maybe they just got some terrible news.
Here's the thing - it makes you a much nicer person to be around when you realise that your neighbor is just like you.
If you start to see everyone as yourself, you treat them as you would treat yourself. You wouldn't call yourself an idiot - you wouldn't actively try to hurt yourself.
I will dissect this at a later date, but this is a realisation that has helped me to find God.
One day, you will no longer be here. You are slowly, day by day, dying.
You should never put off til tomorrow what you can do today, because you might not get tomorrow. It's a fact of life.
If you learn one thing from this entire post, it's that time is your most valuable asset. You can make more money, you can try again, but you cannot buy back time once it is gone.
Fear isn't real
Fear is manufactured. By the media, by people that want to sell you the solution.
I've had bad stuff happen to me, you probably have too, but there's no point in being afraid of what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow is coming, like it or not.
Fear isn't real. If you shift to thinking that anything and everything in this life can be overcome, youbecome fearless.
I am. But I had to face those fears to come to the conclusion that they can be overcome.
Be a Fighter
There are many people that give up everyday. Life hits them HARD. They decide to lay down and let life take its course, because they feel they have no control.
Life is about taking hit after hit after hit. Progress isn't linear, it's a lot of down before there's up. You don't get to decide what happens to you. You get to decide how you will respond, how you will overcome, and how you will help others by being a warrior.
Thank you for reading this post, I believe that if I can help even just a single person to see things a little differently, then I have accomplished my goal. I have so much still to learn, but from my challenges, I am eternally grateful that I can reach you through this medium.
Because if I didn't go through what I did, we wouldn't have found eachother.
Until next time.