Mar
19

perspective.

every once in a while an exchange occurs that shifts your perspective a little. or opens up a perspective that you already hold. either way, it is enlightening.

as many of you know, i broke my back a couple of years ago with some poor judgement involving a boy, a polo pony and biting off just a wee bit more than i could chew. that combined with an incident with a head-on collision and shattered ankle that left me a wee gimpy but proud of my progress.

since that time, i’ve had a lot of trouble with irksome numbness in my extremities, weakness, soreness etc. but nothing incredibly incapacitating. mostly just bothersome, and frankly has opened up a startlingly easy access to painkillers and muscle relaxants. but that’s a completely different rant for later.

so this morning, i happen down the hall at work and encounter a gentleman who is two offices down who is a legend at amgen. he works in government affairs, but has been at amgen so long and is so engaged at work and at home and cultivates relationships with people that are long-lasting and fantastic that i have made it a goal to emulate his approach.

he’s a licensed massage therapist, actively involved in rheumatoid arthritis work, participating in the annual Amgen California Coast Classic Bike ride raising money for research for RA, he maintains one of the largest server farms for SETI and is a devout mac user.

when he spied my little 12″ powerbook he marched right in and we had a long discussion about apple cultism. when he realized that i had no   at work, he mentioned that he has about 12 macs at home and thinks he has one to spare that might help me out. and i’ll be gosh-darned if he didn’t immediately drive home and grab a power cord for me to use in my office. amazing guy.

well this morning i ran into him hobbling down the hall with a tall walking stick–and i asked him if he was okay. he said his back had gone out AGAIN. happens from time to time.

i started to comiserate with my pathetic story about my wee compression fracture from my misadventure in palm springs…which was quickly reframed when he related that he was blown up in vietnam and obliterated his L4 and L5 and was told he likely never walk again. boy did he prove them wrong! he announced. and for the record, he has proved most of us wrong just by setting the bar a wee bit higher than your average joe.

then he quietly relayed that the 12 men in his unit were killed in that blast and really if you think about it, things turned out pretty well. in retrospect.

now for the record, i’m not one to be quick to judge the level of pain or struggle in life. we all struggle in our own way with the shit that life deals out from time to time.

if you begin down the path of, “well, you know that’s hard i understand, but if you heard about my friend that **insert really incredibly difficult life-changing trauma in which your insignificant struggle pales in comparison here**, you would feel much better.”

only to find your back against the brick wall of how bad things could be but goddamn it, i’m still pathetically struggling with my little issue here. and for the underdeveloped and unchallenged these kinds of things seem pretty rough.

then i hear about the one-legged soccer player who gets out on the field and hop kicks a ton of ass out there on the field and LOVES IT. or the Iraq War vetran who has lost a leg and is out placing in the iron man. or my friend down the hall who is hobbling today, but most days is kicking my ass every day with unmatched class and generosity against a backdrop of a rich, tough layered history of challenges.

and quietly reminds me. there are many depths to face head on with grace and fierce determination.

and reminds me that i certainly have a lot to learn. about challenge. about grace. and fierce determination.

thanks jeff.

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