I’ve been busy these past few days hosting a traveler from Japan, and it was an intense period of tourism within my own city — an exhausting span of from Wednesday afternoon until last night, up, down, around. I slept until after noon today, which is a first, as I’d been getting up between 6.30 and 8.30 since my return from Europe (a lifestyle change I intended to keep, as it lengthened my days and gave me the chance to be far more productive than usual).
And when I say “productive,” I don’t necessarily mean productive with work, as normal people mean it. Actually, “work” is an ever-changing term; as a matter of fact, I’m always working. However, my version of work isn’t the kind that people are typically paid for in dollars — it’s a constant work in the self-development arena.
This period of time that I’ve stepped back from academia has really been refreshing and enlightening for me. What began as just a “year off” to focus on therapy turned into a lifestyle of constant transformation: The physical rehab has yielded plenty of improvements, to be sure — but more importantly, as I’ve entered into the world of entrepreneurship, it has inspired me to also work on my psychology. The mindset of entrepreneurs is actually much talked about in the field, but not so much in everyday society. It’s often said, in entrepreneurship, that “leadership is spelled E-X-A-M-P-L-E,” and therefore the entrepreneurial industry requires the kind of people who possess the humility in themselves to address their own weaknesses and work on themselves first, letting the finances take care of themselves in the process. The improvement of your self is far more challenging than any other work we could ever be “measured” in by dollars or by letter grades. And this is why I’ve felt more than satisfied during this “time off,” as opposed to when I stayed home after hospital discharge the first time around, when I felt myself dripping with envy for my friends who complained about having homework or exams.
No, I’m not writing this post today to convince you to open your own business. At least, not in the official sense. I would just like this chance to explain where I get a lot of my inspiration for keeping up this blog and helping you to take your healing into your own hands and make it happen. Make the process of your healing your business. And any good business is ultimately a means to a lifestyle of freedom — whether it be financially, personally, or otherwise. The business of your healing ought to similarly bring you toward the freedom of living in a better way. For me, the freedom that my healing would bring me is to be able to physically express myself the way that I would like, the way that comes naturally to me. It will be freedom to see myself in full contentment and acceptance, that this is who I truly am and how I truly believe myself to be (the same way an obese woman may claim to be a “skinny girl in a fat girl’s body”). Full health and harmonious balance — in other words, equilibrium — is everything’s natural state. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that good health is balance. If anything in the body or mind is ever tipped too far to one side, the entire system can be compromised. Homeostasis? A question of equilibrium.
Anyway, I really think more importantly than anything else, we must be of sound mind. If your mind is healthy, your body will follow.
What is the mind, though? Is it the brain? It’s easy to jump to that conclusion, but actually, the mind exists throughout the body, as a sort of force of our lives. The mind occupies the well being of every process within, and that’s why it’s so important for us to first take care of our mindsets.
Without a healthy mindset, we would never get out of bed in the mornings. It’s that dim feeling of hope within that mindset that today there are things worth doing — that life is worth living, and that someone or something needs or wants us to get up and start the day. That hope drives society, and us, to do things every day.
The mindset needs to be further tweaked, however, in the field of rehab. Why do you think so many victims of traumatic injury fall into the funk of depression? Why are there so many people who never heal? It is really an ill state of mind that halts their progression (and then causes it to go backward), a belief that they are “victims” rather than people given a tremendous challenge to overcome, that keeps them stagnant.
This is why I talk so often about how to look at your situation, how to proceed mentally. My mother frequently tells me that we are our own best friends and our own worst enemies — it is crucial that we take on the former role, especially when it comes to our healing.
I also find that this type of setback is — and you may cringe — the best type of opportunity for positive change. Where there is potential for horror, there is also equal potential for tremendous strength and marvelous beauty. It’s one of the laws of physics: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Having gone through an experience like this changes you. It requires a humility that perhaps you may have lost long ago, that reminds you that your mind’s greatest tool, its body, is fallible. It exaggerates a fundamental truth that applies to every living thing, that we are all dependent. We are dependent on our heartbeats, our metabolism. But how often do we think about that every day? Do we take the time out to ponder that and give thanks? Are we ever thankful for the capabilities of our own bodies on a regular basis? The fact that the brain never sleeps, keeps us alive and healthy? That if you cut yourself today, after a while, your skin will heal over?
It wasn’t until I was comatose on a hospital bed needing someone to change my diapers every day that I’d ever given my previous “independence” a thought. I’d been arrogant enough to think myself invincible (I was nineteen, after all) in the same way all people in good health take their bodies for granted.
It is a blessing to be able to take anything in good health for granted. When you’re full you don’t stop to give thanks for every bite you had — unless perhaps you have a spiritual reason for doing so — so it isn’t until we are in need of something that we even realize we’ve got it good.
I suppose what I’m really saying is that humility, at its core, is essential to healing. The arrogance that we are so accustomed to exercising also goes by a different name: the ego. And the ego serves us, too — it offers us protection, but not much more. Take the time out to reconnect with your humility. Thank your body (and your body-mind) for what it does for you. And use this as an excuse to take good care of it. My rehab isn’t just about healing and rewiring my neural connections; it’s about making over my entire health system. Because really, as devastating as my brain injury was, it was actually a tremendous gift — an obstacle that requires immeasurable time and effort to subdue, of course, but once that’s taken care of, I’ll get out of it much stronger and accomplished than before. But only with the lessons I will have learned from having experienced it with my entire being.
Join me, won’t you?
To our healing,