First I just want to say how incredibly grateful I am to Caitlin and Cable for putting this together and to everyone who has donated or is sharing this with people they know. This has without a doubt been the darkest and most challenging period of my life; weeks and months of isolation and pain, dark and desperate thoughts, and a loss of some of the things I thought made me me. I have often said that for as long as I can remember, every year of my life has been better than the one before, until 2021. That being said, I wanted to just share a couple of positive tidbits I’ve been learning along the way in the hopes that they may be helpful to someone else. People are hurting everywhere around us, physically and mentally, and it’s up to all of us to help each other through.
I think the first lesson and challenge I faced is trying to embrace impermanence and finding meaning in change. We spend so much time defining ourselves by what we do or what we have done. I’m a dancer. I’m a doctor. I’m successful. I’m this. I’m that. Too often who we are is our job or where we’ve travelled or what we’ve purchased or who we’ve slept with when in reality I think who we are is how we experience and interact with the world. How we love and how we receive love. As we begin to strip away our skills and our talents and our possessions, a process that can be both scary and at times filled with shame, we are maybe able to find our true light and love. The part of us that isn’t scared or jealous or insecure. The part of us that people are actually drawn to, even if we don’t realize it most of the time. Things change, sometimes slowly and sometimes in an instant, but I believe our ability to embrace it and find joy in the unknown is paramount to our continued happiness and growth. Perhaps we are often caught up in the idea that time gives things value when maybe something that happens in a flash of light can be just as meaningful and beautiful. As I attempt to find peace with what has been and not frustration with trying to keep it going forever, I often think about the saying “Comparison is the thief of joy”. Allowing the past to burn bright with the joy that was to make room for the future that could be.
The other idea that has become very real for me is the power of hope. Without hope there can be no life. Without a belief in the ability to grow and move forward, life can become meaningless. That being said, hope doesn’t just happen. Hope requires work. Singularly and collectively. Work from you, your family, your friends, our society. Please please if you ever have the opportunity to put a little more hope into the world, take it. It can be easy to get lost in the hopelessness of our different situations. After it became clear that my artificial disc had failed and my pain was an all day reality, it seemed like there were no options and no way forward. I was told the surgery that I needed was impossible and I would just have to accept there was no way to heal and get out of pain. I believed this for awhile and it was the hardest period of my entire life. I had lost the core philosophy I approach every situation with, “It’s not impossible”. Never believe someone who says tells you you can’t or that it won’t work. It was with the strength of my friends and family and Caitlin that I made it through this. Their love provided the bridge to keep me safe until I could again find my hope and my strength and my resolve. It was then that Caitlin and I set out on the long and difficult journey of figuring out exactly what had happened to me and who could help. This journey has had many chapters and characters and guides and I am grateful to all of them, many of whom are suffering in their own different ways. Their strength and story has pushed me to continue fighting and searching for answers.
Our bodies are how we experience the world. When they fail, it can feel worse than death. Having basic functions stripped from you is both dehumanizing and infuriating. I would not be here without the constant and absolute care and love of my partner, my peacock, my lover Caitlin. She is literally my hero. My everything. Because of her, I am able to continue to experience the world and the people in it. Because of her I have hope. Because of her there is light. It’s cliche to say their aren’t words to express what she has done and continues to do for me but it really is true. My biggest hope in life right now is that I can recover from all of this and the two of us can go out and experience the world together and spread a little love and joy and happiness to anyone who needs it.
There are so many people suffering in silence. Reach out if you can. Take a moment to really see how your family and friends are doing. Take a moment to see how a stranger is doing. Lend a hand. Participate. Say you’er sorry. Mend a fence. Build a bridge. Life is busy and it’s easy for days to slip away but a little effort can really make a big difference. The love I have been shown by friends and family has literally given me the strength and will to live. Long phone calls, visits, hugs, helping to brainstorm, just being there to cry. Jonathan Cable literally put me and everything I own on his back and helped to carry me across the country I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention my parents and the rock they are. Absolute unconditional love and support always and forever. When I was young my father gave me the permission to feel sad and grieve and taught me that through this process, life would get better and the negative would once again become positive. Such a gift. My mother is simply one of the most amazing humans in the entire world. Her ferocious desire to explore the world and continue to experience the new is truly inspiring. I am forever grateful to them and everyone who has shared their love and time and energy.
I guess you can’t have sunny skies without some black clouds now and then but please know, even in the darkest times, when the rain and tears are at their worst, there are smiles and laughter on the horizon…we just sometimes need a helping hand to remember. I look forward to being able to post about the triumphs and the setbacks that await on this long and painful road to recovery and I look forward to being able to thank each and everyone of you for helping me regain my ability to experience the world and put love out into it.
With love and light,