I opened a book preface with the line, “There’s no greater challenge, more or less significant than the passage of time.”
And, in the many years since, that line has remained with me, with my understanding that empathy and compassion are two of the most sincere traits that we can possess. See, what I’ve learned through my own challenges and struggles is that while no two people or struggles are the same, challenges and struggles effect most individuals at some point in life – often at several points in life – and although the origins of challenges and struggles vary greatly, their impact is universal, requiring all of us in moments of desperation to find an inner-strength to step back from the ledges we find ourselves on. And, when we’ve stood on the ledges of life – on the verge of slipping off, falling off, wheeling off – we know how tough it is for others in those situations, but what happens when we find ourselves facing the same situation.
When you live successfully with disability – and, dare I say, honestly, where you don’t portray life as perfect, but as simply survivable, regardless of challenge or struggle – it is inevitably clear to others that you’ve been to the ledge and back, gaining wisdom along to way. After all, if one is struggling, one can relate with someone who’s obviously struggled, too – and there’s a sort of reassurance in seeing that another has somehow made it through the tougher times in life, mountains climbed, scars earned, wisdom gained, and ledges safely passed.
When you put these perspectives together – those who are facing life’s challenges and struggles, with those who have struggled and survived; the fact is, many are too often alone in facing their challenges and struggles – and it is scary, isolating, and debilitating. What’s even worse is when one discusses one’s challenges and struggles with someone who hasn’t “been there,” and ends up being judged, lectured, and ridiculed – harmful feedback that can only make one feel more defeated, pushing one farther out on the ledge. But, when there’s a true mutual understanding between people. We share, we listen, and we build trust – that is, we create the foundations of truly the most meaningful, supportive, healing relationships in our lifetimes.
And, when we’re in need, with such an empathetic, compassionate friend in our midst, the outcomes are life-changing: We can exhale our true feelings, we can open ourselves up in a safe place, we can explore our emotions, we can express true wishes, and we can just be. When it all comes together, it’s not just a friendship that’s life-sustaining, but can actually be life-saving – conversations that allow us to restart living.
Those who have faced life’s challenges and struggles, we know how tough they can be to overcome. Yet, when we overcome them, we have an evolved empathy and compassion for others of such kindred spirits. Let us be there for others – without judgment, as unconditionally as possible. And, if we’re fortunate enough to have someone who’s there for us unconditionally – offering an open hand, drawing us back when we’re standing on a ledge – let us cherish that friendship and reciprocate. This is what happen to me when I met Morgan. She pulled me from the ledge and saved my life. Allowed me to once again understand the regardless of what I thought I did have meaning to others and have changed life’s though my message though my living.
I sit on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity be that in a career, in sport, or in life. Perhaps one day though the passage of time people will understand that I really am not who I was and started my life over when I met Morgan. I will sit patiently with aspirations of hope and understanding. We a belief that people may understand that the past is the past and pages for people can be rewritten should they be given the opportunity. See, the goal is to not just to top the mountains of life, but to top the mountains of life together, hand-in-hand and this can only be done though the passage of time..