What would you do if you lost the use of your legs, your eyesight or your motor skills? Would you give up – settle into your new reality, defeated and despondent to the world; or would you sit up and say ‘so these are my new life parameters, hey…? Okay – let’s see what I can do’? These courageous people who find that determination within themselves are the inspiration for this post.
Motivational YouTube videos that publish a montage of talks by inspirational public figures have been driving an increasing amount of passion within me over the last few weeks. I have spent a vast amount time listening to advice from those who have become incredibly successful and those who have, in some way, made an extraordinary impact upon the world. At times, however, those media heroes can seem so far out of reach that it prevents a lot of people from attempting to make a notable impact upon the world themselves. Since studying journalism, I have started to notice a lot of news reports on regular members of the public who have become extraordinary pillars of inspiration. To me, these are the type of people that the public can relate to and use as inspiration.
There are three particular stories that stood out to me this week that I would like to share with you.
If you can get to the gym every day, then so can I!
What’s your excuse for not exercising regularly? Tired? Achy after a long day? Well, put your excuses down – it’s time to get real with yourself. My ‘get-real’ driving force is a man that I see in the gym who acts as a constant reminder that the excuses I tell myself for avoiding exercise are truly and utterly pathetic. This man, who regularly attends the gym, is in a wheelchair and yet still finds the motivation to get up at 6am and go to the gym. I don’t know his story, but the other day I was stumbling around tired and dazed at 7am and I wandered past this man. Usually I see him with a Personal Trainer near a work bench, but today he was sitting on a spin bike; he had one foot resting in the centre piece of and he was pedalling faster with one leg than I could pedal with two. In that moment, I thought to myself – this guy is so committed to maintaining his health, that even when he cannot use one of his legs, he is sitting unattended on a spin bike, wheelchair to the side, pedalling with fierce determination.
I frequently chat to those closest to me about my concerns that if anything were to happen to impede upon my ability to exercise or walk, I hope that I could still find the courage and determination to do whatever my body could do to keep thrashing life. I hope that I could stop myself from being consumed by the pain of regret, lost opportunities or past hauntings and utilise all the gifts left in life to be the best version of me possible. It is people like this man, who no matter what physical obstacles they are facing, still find the discipline and strength to exercise. After seeing him, I cannot help but tell myself: if he can face that and still make it to the gym – you better get your ass to the gym, too!
The vision in their hearts
I heard this news story one morning and I was moved by the team work of an elderly couple who had been blind since childhood. Weekly News reports: “A Kenilworth couple who both went blind as children will receive an honorary degree from the University of Warwick for their services to visually impaired people.” The Weekly News explains that Fred Reid has worked at Warwick University for 31 years, and Mr and Mrs Reid are extremely delighted to receive this award. What I absolutely love about this is how honoured they feel. In their minds, they’re receiving a degree for simply doing the right thing: “He added: “It was such a nice gesture – it just came out of the blue. We’ve just done what we thought were the right things to do.” In this world of narcissistic social media behaviour, it is becoming far less about doing what is right and more about what image you portray. Since losing their eyesight as children, Mr and Mrs Reid have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others in the blind community: “I continue the struggle and my ambition is to see the rate of unemployment among blind and partially sighted people drop well below the current level of seventy-five percent.”
The selfless nature that comes with the behaviour and actions of those in the community who are working every day without recognition to improve the lives of those not as fortunate as themselves, is incredible. It is something that reminds me that I can give so much more back to society than I already do. If someone like Etta and Fred Reid are able to make such an invaluable impact in life to those who need it the most, someone like me who is lucky enough to have my health intact, a roof over my head and a strong support system around me, should be able to also make an impact on lives around me.
“It will not be easy, but I promise you it will be worth it”
A view from the top
My third and final news story that I will share with you today is of a video of a man suffering from motor neurone disease climbing to the top of Snowdonia. BBC reports: “a father-of-two with motor neurone disease has climbed Snowdon in a wheelchair. Jason Liversidge, originally from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, was diagnosed with MND in 2013. He was joined by family and friends to help him scale the peak.”
I watched in awe as his wife and friends laid a ramp in front of his motorised wheelchair, as they ascended Snowdonia. They did this repeatedly over the course of the climb so that he could fulfil his goal and reach the top of a beautiful Welsh mountain that is 3,500 ft above sea level. In this moving video, Jason tells the reporter that it’s one of the best times of his life. He is climbing in order to raise money for Marie Curie and Dove House Hospice, as well as create memories for his two daughters. The struggle that he must have endured to achieve this incredible accomplishment is something that speaks to me on multiple levels. It took them eight hours to get to the top and an accomplishment like this reminds you that a strong will can drive you to do anything, no matter the obstacles you’re facing.
While standing in the gym watching this story unfold, my hairs stood on end and I was overwhelmed with emotion. There is never a reason to give up; find that desire deep down within yourself that drives you to carry on. When you find this reserve of courage, nurture it.
With all three of these stories, these people had every reason to sit back and say – ‘right, I am done. I have lost my sight, the use of my leg(s), or even worse – my body is deteriorating, so I am going to sit here, relax, eat cake and wait out my life’. Their exertion of effort need just be minimal, and do you know what – no one would have blamed them. But look at them – they are filled with drive, courage and discipline. They are determined to grab life by the proverbials and drive forward, no matter what.
They have refused to give up.
I want to have that drive, I want to have that determination to live life to the full – and I want to be able to do this before all these things I have and take for granted are lost.
So what do you do? How do you live with purpose? When life gives you lemons, how do you keep going? My advice is… just keep moving forward. Allow yourself 5 seconds of sadness, or 5 seconds of anger at your situation and then let it go. Focus on all that you are grateful in your life and harness the strength to get up in the morning with a renewed energy to just try again.
Try to give something back to the world, each and every day.
So, on those days when you feel small or you feel like you don’t know how to make an impact in the world around you, just take a look at those everyday people who, with more disadvantages than yourselves, are still making daily steps towards improving the lives of those around them. Watch motivational videos of those who have risen from the dirt and have become something incredible for everyone to see, but also search for those Mr and Mrs Reid’s, quietly working away in a village – making an incredible imprint on the world and not shouting about it every day.
It’s not about what you look like, it is about who you are. It is about the daily grind you are involved in that doesn’t only make your life more fulfilled, but makes someone else’s life that little bit easier.
Find your place in this world and never, ever give up.
Call to Action
Sign up now to be notified first of all future blog posts on A Life Remastered.