Impossible. What an oppressive word. The very cadence feels negative in my mouth.
Her synonyms are just as disparaging: hopeless, unreasonable, unattainable, futile. I’ve muttered and believed every one of those words on my lowest days—allowing “impossible” to become a crutch and an excuse, in the past.
That was then. 2016 is my year of setting out on a positive life path, one that has opened my heart and mind to the world of being of benefit, to throwing out “im” and living the possible.
In these few months, this new path has included a five-week ashram retreat in India, as well as a four-month apprenticeship with elephant journal. I’ve found my tribe, and most importantly I’ve found my voice. Being of benefit and being “on the path” sounds new-agey, but I’ve learned in this short time there are so many ways to bring a little light into the world for the benefit of all, including ourselves.
My new mantra is from the “We’re Superhumans” video theme song: “I was just born today. I can go all the way. Yes, I can.”
I watched the “We’re the Superhumans” video for first time a few months ago, and it has remained at the top of my playlist—a daily wake-up, in more ways than one. I let the scenes play over in my mind any time I need a little inspiration, and often I’m flooded with emotions to the point where I cannot breathe.
This video awakens three senses in me: awe, inspiration and melancholy—all at once.
Melancholy comes from my own world, a feeling wedged deep inside, a darkness I pushed way down years ago. This summer, through meditation and self-work, I’ve been able to shine a little light down into those cracks—revealing memories from what feels like a different lifetime.
At the end of the 90s, my body began randomly shutting down; one day I lost all feeling in my left arm, a few months later I was stuttering and couldn’t speak properly, then random tumors appeared. To add to this confusion I was moving to a different country, which meant more tests, new doctors, change of language and more stress on my entire being. I felt like a human test subject, and over the course of five years was on just about every medication, subjected to painful tests and regularly received the worst-case “probable” prognoses from each expert.
I was in full-on depression after one year, ready to give up completely after two.
At that time, still without a full diagnosis, I was told that the paralysis would probably continue and within five years I would, most likely, be wheelchair bound. That was just something I couldn’t accept. Not me. Independence wasn’t even the main factor, my self-worth was so low back then that I couldn’t see being a burden to anyone. The future looked impossible. Thankfully, I met a new doctor who basically diagnosed me as being over-medicated. We worked on a weaning program over several years, grueling physical therapy, and by the grace of all that is sacred, I’m healthy today (more or less).
When I look back at that time, I realize that I didn’t have any type of inspiration in my life—no one who was differently-abled to act as a mentor, to say it’s not the end of the world to be in a wheelchair. I was so deep in my own pity party, and now I can’t help but wonder if seeing a video like this would have changed my perspective.
Today, I see my role as being that voice, to bring a little kindness into the world. I feel a heavy sense of sadness that I could have given up so easily back then.
But let’s get to those other key senses from the video: awe and inspiration.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ~ Jimmy Dean
Wow! The power, stamina, dedication and confidence that each athlete (and non-athlete) shows is just exhilarating. Adjusting their sails and being their truest true. I have hope for our world when I see each frame of this video. These are the people we can all seek inspiration from.
The video also gives me hope for a spectacular future by taking the impossible and making it possible.
Until 1954, all medical and scientific experts had declared that it is humanly impossible to run a four-minute mile. On May 6, 1954, the Englishman Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile barrier. Today the four-minute mile is “the standard of all male professional middle distance runners.” This week, Michael “Mikey” Brannigan, a teen from the United States ran a 3:57:58 minute mile, making him the first T20-classified athlete (which means he has an intellectual impairment) to shatter the four-minute barrier. When we are able to get past what others declare is impossible, “Yes I can!” becomes our reality.
Almost monthly we witness astonishing and inspiring advancements in medical research and prosthetics. From wheelchairs that allow the person to stand upright and climb stairs, to the toddler Evelyn Moore, whose parents built a DIY wheelchair, to the many news stories of 3D-printing of prosthetics. Recently, we were delighted by the news from the ALS Association that—due to direct funding from the ALS Bucket Challenge—they were able to discover the NEK1 gene, which is one of the most common genetic contributors to the disease.
Channel 4 should also be praised for investing in this video promotion. To see the Paralympics as a chance to make a difference in media, to make a substantial financial investment is honorable. The video above was shot in only four days. The logistics alone of getting all of the athletes in the same general area, as well as the film crew, far exceeds any Olympic Games advertising I’ve seen. The video’s creativity, choice of Sammy Davis Jr.’s perky jazz theme song along with Channel 4’s reputation in the U.K. for diversity programming, deserves a bow! With most TV stations cutting budgets, it’s refreshing to see that Channel 4 considers the Paralympic Games a priority enough to invest in a professional quality production.
Let’s be a voice to demand diversity in all media with accurate representation of differently-abled persons, not just as “the other” but as “we all are.” Real people who are living their truth every single day.
It is my sincere hope that we find some inspiration in this video, in the upcoming games and from those around us. Let us seek out the many ways we can be of benefit to differently-abled persons, as well as all of our neighbors…anyone can be struggling and may just need a helping hand, a loving gesture or to know they aren’t alone in this world.
Let’s get involved in charity events that drive funding toward research and invest in funding for advancements of this type of technology. Let’s check in on neighbors, offer to run errands, do random acts of kindness—any way we can be of benefit.
Every drop counts: “Drops in the bucket matter—that’s how you fill buckets. And it’s by filling these buckets that we’ll create real change.” ~ Nicholas Kristof
The Paralympics come around every four years. This year I’ve found a new perspective and look forward to not only watching the games—the opening ceremony is September 7th in Rio and the games continue until the 18th—I look forward to the outstanding advancements we will make until the 2020 games, and beyond.
Yes I can…let the lines of that song play over in your head. Yes I can. Yes I can.
Yes we can. Yes we can all be Superhumans by being of benefit.
Author: Julie Balsiger
Image: YouTube Still
Editor: Emily Bartran