The Paralympics are currently on. I actually liked when they were called the Special Olympics because to me it is notable and special when someone can do something with less than everyone else needs to do it, as was evidenced in this post from earlier in the year. I’m not being nice to anyone by being impressed by all that, I’m deep-down inspired by what other human beings can show me we’re capable of.
This brings up the question of what moves us forward in life? At these Paralympics I see smiles and achievements and connections to teams and respect for competitors and lots of physical health and travel and excitement, and none of these things are contained in our limbs. Just as the blind know happiness, the deaf have heard grief. The experiences in our consciousness are what life is made of. Your body is what delivers you to the situations where those experiences take place.
The people who repeatedly choose negative experiences don’t recognise their choices. Once when I was living in Australia I met a very religious man. He was kind in the sense that he was very keen to warn me about all of the potential dangers in the world but those fears had made him extremely angry all the time.
Rather than be happy about his wife’s uncle building them a beautiful playhouse for the kids, he worried they would get up to no good in it and so he tore the door off and placed the playhouse right outside the back door of the main house. The kids naturally sought privacy so they mostly just stored things in it. They were only allowed to see religious films and read religious books. They never went out and only mixed with people from their church who were similarly cloistered.
This unfortunately turned the kids into huge outsiders at their school. They were teased for not being aware of anything really modern and they were afraid to participate in anything. They had however seen their father get angry a lot so they were both good at having hot, fast tempers. When they weren’t upset they were mostly depressed because they had no example of what joy or fun looked like. Their parents rarely spoke.
I was fully aware the wife was addicted to TV and profoundly unhappy to the point of abusing prescription drugs. The kids lives grew progressively worse as they matured and sought greater freedom of choice and their angry father soon had them on prescription drugs too. And yet it’s important to note, they had inherited money so they had no need to even work, and everyone was healthy other than emotionally. They could have travelled anywhere but chose to go nowhere.
So this is important: how is someone who lost their legs prior to a huge accomplishment crying at hearing their anthem played while they’re on a podium when this entire family is drugged and miserable and they have everything going for them? Because life doesn’t happen outside of us it happens inside of us.
The miserable family built a rigid idea of doing the right thing and they’re killing themselves contorting themselves into that preconceived shape. Meanwhile the happy group continue to be bold or even got bolder about life and they chased huge dreams. There are no dreams in that Australian family. There are only fears. While one group creates dangers to hide from the other group creates new space within themselves to allow for more expansion. One life goes up, the other goes down. The choice is always ours.
Will you make the most of what you have or will you hide from life? Because you’ll make that choice each moment of each day, and whether you like it or not, your lifetime is made of what you choose most.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.