Sunday, 2 September 2012

Flying without wings

Whoever said you need legs to run or both arms to swim has been firmly proved wrong. If you’ve caught any of the Paralympic events you’ll know that you don’t need to be able bodied in the traditional sense to reach for greatness and, damn well, achieve it.

The heroism displayed by the Paralympians easily surpasses the glories earned by the fully limbed athletes who wowed us in field, track and aquatic events last month. I am awe-struck by the super-human strength on display and we’re not just talking physical here.

Only someone who understands disability through personal experience, either as a victor (over it) or by supporting someone who is physically or mentally challenged can appreciate the magnitude of their success. Disabled people are not helpless victims though they may appear to some as that. They have experienced tragedy and disaster worthy of a full ten on the Richter scale but they have overcome. They put people who slip too quickly into depression and despair, whenever they come up against an obstacle,  to shame.

The tears they shed as they hug their medals to them are the tears that they’ve surpressed a long time ago. Only in victory do they give full rein to their joy and pain.  It has cost them dear to get to where they are. Dark days of negativity filled with the harsh realities that requires them to zone out the naysayers and concentrate on their personal goals – of walking, running, rowing and cycling with one or two prosthetic limbs.

No one knew their gruelling schedule as they struggled to achieve their best in every training. No one knew how their spirits plummeted when well meaning medical professionals told them that they were limited and must accept living less than a full life. No one saw the pain etched on to their faces and hearts when they felt beaten down by the system. No one knew the injuries they sustained to their bodies and their pride. No one knows except those who are close to them.

No problem
In every life there are walls and barriers. When I’m feeling a little self-indulgent, I see them too. Walls have their purpose. It’s not to seal you in or cramp your style. They’re there for strengthening that iron will inside so that you can either climb over it or smash your way through. Some people will never get over their barriers but that’s because they’ve chosen not to get out of the way. You have to clear the path of your insecurities before you can plough headlong to victory.

Easy it is not and wrestling with our demons is a life long calling. Better fight than give in. This is one war where you should never surrender, even if you claim to be a pacifist. Declare war on your darkest thoughts; that satanic voice in your ear that hinders your progress. Listen to your higher self and drown pessimism in the well of enthusiasm. Don’t let anyone stop you. Power forward and reveal your greatness.

I believe I can fly
When you see a Paralympian win and his/her closest supporters issue a deafening cheer, it’s because they are the ones who know what it's taken to arrive at the gold, silver and bronze.They are the wind beneath the clipped wings of these fine men and women.

They’ll never be whole bodied but their spirits are soaring higher than most of us. Their dreams and goals are fresh and they’ve got courage that you and I would die for. Perhaps they’re a little bit closer to God and his angels. God loves a trier and no one can accuse a Paralympian of not giving their best.

If you need a little inspiration or are feeling sorry for yourself then switch onto the games. You’ll find that your problems become minuscule and insignificant so throw them away. Human beings are problem solving machines and no where can we see a better example of this than in these athletic power houses.

There's a new respect in the air. They've forced us to look beyond the wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs. Attitudes have changed and I know that we're moving in the right direction when leisure centres / gyms lay on more activities for the physically challenged. Life's good when we see the gap closing.

As I wrote in a previous post, the naysayers who bang on about how the Games have worsened the national debt crisis can go take a  long running jump into the sandpit. If creating heros out of broken bodies is making our budgets lean , I say, it's worth every penny!

No sweat!



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