Saturday, April 5, 2014


I'm not one for inspirational quotes, never have been.  Being of a naturally sarcastic and cynical nature, I tend to find them trite and cloying.  But I came across one about a year ago that managed to pierce through the tough shell I've built up around me over lo these many years.  The quote wasn't intended to be inspirational, but it was, which made gave it a much greater impact.  It was included in an article about a teenage girl who was born without eyes or a nose.  Much of her young life had consisted of corrective surgeries intended to give her a face that she would never see. When the author commented to her that her life hadn't been easy, she replied:  "That's right, but I don't need easy, all I need is possible."

At first I didn't know why it affected me so much, beyond even the demonstration of such courage and toughness in one so young.  Then I realized that what she had expressed so eloquently in such a few words was the way I had always tried to live my life, even though I had never faced any hardship that came close to what she had endured.

I had always been prone to looking ahead to what I might become, what I might achieve.  When I was young, like most kids the possibilities before me had seemed infinite, too numerous to choose among.  And again like most kids, I chose a wrong one before I became wise enough to start again and select the right one. 

For awhile, the possibilities before me remained stable and finite as I worked, raised a family, planned for retirement.  But this was only illusion, for I now realize they were changing, shifting, contracting, expanding, disappearing, appearing, as I grew older, became a father, changed jobs, then had a stroke.

After my stroke, it took awhile for me to ascertain the possibilities that remained in front of me.  When I did, not looking at them either positively or negatively, but objectively, I saw a smaller, but more sharply defined, number of possible futures.  Some of them were bleak, but some more exciting than anything I had ever imagined. But with age hopefully comes wisdom, and I know that these possibilities will continue to change, shift, transform, appear and disappear even at this stage, as I grow older and the end of my life comes nearer. 

I now view recovery from a stroke differently than I used to.  I don't see it as trying to get back physically and mentally to the way I was before.  Now I realize that after any significant illness or accident, each of us, if we live, is left with a level of potential recovery that may be 1%, or 100%, or anything in between.  Unfortunately, none of us knows exactly what this level is, we can only work hard and see how far we can progress, without knowing if we are close to our goal, or have miles to go before we can rest.  But the more we progress in our recovery, the more the possibilities open up in front of us, and that's all we need.  We don't need easy, we just need possible.