13 April, 2014 ganbatte
For those of you who don’t know (most of you do), I got hit by a car while riding my bicycle in 1988. Nearly half my life ago. I was in a coma for five days and everything changed. I’m pausing to reflect a little bit. And put up a few pictures!
I plan (we’ll see if it works out) on putting up weekly posts beginning now. If I put up another one a week from today you’ll know I’ve been successful… once. Since I’ll be posting more frequently, there will be fewer pictures per post. But over the course of a month the number of pictures will be about the same. I’m sticking to 1 post/week to encourage myself to write a little bit more, and with a little bit more structure. I hope you enjoy what I write. Negative and positive feedback are both encouraged, I have a thick skin. So here are a few pictures plus a little blurb on the end. The “blurb on the end” this week is slightly longer than my average blurbs will be. I have a huge list of ideas for subjects. From before my accident, from after my accident, my family, my Yukon trip, my education, my work, my triathlon experiences, pets, friends, travels, Camp, the cabin, I won’t run out of material soon.
My last blog entry was “Prediction is very difficult…” a week ago today on Sunday, April 6. Some of the pictures in this post have already been on facebook. A few are new and of course not everyone sees facebook. Mackey and Turner and I had the good fortune to look at a Barred Owl for a long time when we were at Pony Pasture on Tuesday. The leaves are still mostly not on the trees and a lot of light comes in. Plus Barred Owls in my experience around Pony Pasture have always been relaxed. And they stay out in the middle of the day. I took these pictures at 11:30 AM. Here are a couple of pictures I enjoyed. They’re both the same owl:
We have robins in central Virginia all year round but they are everywhere now, and very noisy. Cheerful-noisy, though, not annoying-noisy. They sound like spring. I was with a friend at Bryan Park last week and this robin was sitting on a branch singing non stop:
Another bird we’re hearing a lot now is of course our state bird (our state and six other states) the Cardinal. This picture doesn’t do the male much justice and the female even less but I felt lucky to catch them together. I took this picture at Pony Pasture this morning with Ev and Mackey and Turner:
I tried to catch these guys together but it’s almost as difficult as a pair of birds together. They look handsome and the grass is refreshing:
Speaking of dogs, I don’t want to wait another week to post a picture of one of my dad’s favorite trees, a dogwood. This one is in our front yard. It’s blooming more and more every day. I took this picture yesterday. You can tell those buds just opened up since they still have a faint tinge of green. When they’re fully mature they’ll be white. Hopefully I’ll get a nice white one in my next post. They’re so graceful. That tree is on the north side of our front lawn. Dad’s other favorite, a Japanese Red Maple is on the south side of our front lawn. The leaves are just opening up. Maybe I’ll put that up next week too.
The James River is a great source of calm for me, and sometimes the water itself looks beautiful. I brush these photos up a bit, in a manner of speaking, but I don’t really “do” anything to them – this is the precise color and glow it had right while we were looking at it. We were there early and the sun was shining on the water:
Until next week!
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I’ve had the opportunity and the blessing to have my life divided into two distinct halves. I was born on August 23, 1961, and my life was great. It’s great now. I got hit by a car while riding my bicycle on April 5, 1988 and for a long time my life was not so great. As a result of (in descending order from most important to least, but they were all important) my family, the Tuckahoe Volunteer Rescue Squad, and the Medical College of Virginia, I went from a very difficult place to one I am very happy about. In my next few blog entries (maybe more) I’ll address a few great experiences before my accident and a few great experiences since.
The title of this post is a Japanese word an old friend taught me early in my recovery. My friend is an American guy like me but he’d lived in Japan a while and learned this word. In the early years of my recovery, a favorable outcome was far from guaranteed. I lost a lot, and repeatedly mistook the light at the end of the tunnel for what turned out to be yet another oncoming train. I continued to lose a lot. My friend taught me the word “ganbatte.” Its meaning, briefly, is captured in that blog post as “It is a saying used to encourage people to try hard.” It means “don’t give up.” To remind myself, I put it on my license plate:
I’ve had very, very interesting experiences in my life. Of course I’m fifty-two years old and that’s more than enough time to have interesting experiences. I’ve read there’s an oriental curse (who knows) that says “may you live in interesting times.” It remains to be seen whether I will relate my interesting experiences in an interesting fashion. But I’ll attempt to do that in this space over coming blog posts. If I sense any gathering of story-telling momentum, I’ll stay with it. If no momentum gathers, I’ll let it go and not a great deal will be lost.
Telling a story has a beginning (think “once upon a time”) and I don’t know where this one begins. A wise man (nearly as wise as my late father, and that is high praise) once told me that in order to write, you must first pick up a pen. I type (trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to see my hand writing) so here I am. My late father’s advice on writing was an unbending “begin-with-an-outline” and I’m beginning without one. Because I am beginning.
Long time or thorough readers of this blog I hope will forgive me if I cover some already-covered ground. This blog is over three years old, I’ve written 120+ entries, and the important events in my life stuck out then and they stick out now. The first vignette that comes to mind is not my first post-accident memory, but I was still an inpatient at MCV, so it was between April 5, 1988 and mid-June of 1988. If birth-to-accident was the “first half” of my life and accident-to-now is the “second half” of my life, my inpatient time at MCV was vaguely a nexus. “Nexus” defined by my Mac dictionary: “a connection or series of connections linking two or more things”. I arrived in an ambulance in a coma with the lessons of the first twenty-six years. I’ve learned many, many new ones since. One that stays with me is something a nurse told me late in my stay.
To give perspective, I had been healthy before my accident. When I got hit by the car on my bicycle I was training for a triathlon. I’d already done two the year before. I’d also been married the year before, and we had moved from an apartment to a house five days earlier. I’d been working at the same company for seven years and had a job in an office downtown. I was not by any means arrogant, but if you’d asked me on April 4 what the future held I’d have painted a very rosy picture. Now this nurse is talking to me and I’d lost about forty pounds from a frame that didn’t have a lot of extra weight to begin with. I had scars on most of my limbs and on my face and my head was shaved and my eyes were still black. The bones in my lower leg had come out through the skin. They’d been put back in and the scar was shut – I was still in a cast and in a wheelchair, and one of my arms was in a cast too. For a successful, healthy, newlywed twenty-six year old man, the reversal of self-image is difficult to grasp. And the nurse leans over and says:
“Remember – we’re all a lot more the same than we are different.”
I don’t know why that memory is etched so vividly. My brain was still very, very battered at that time, and as an inpatient I was still on lots and lots of drugs. But I can hear every word, I can see the nurse’s face, a little bit of the background, everything. So many other memories of that nexus-era are so gray and fuzzy and hazy. The crispness of this memory is exceptional. It’s equally exceptional how unfaded it is.
As some of you know, I had the great good fortune to eventually return to college and earn a degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. And now I have the even better fortune of spending time with people with disabilities. I always think about how similar we are.
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