I’ve spent a lot of my adult years trying to be appreciative for what I have rather than what I do not. Admittedly, this isn’t always an easy task, especially in a world that constantly preaches more. Though life seems to throw things in your direction ever once in a while just to make sure you are holding true to your values. A few months ago, I had such an experience.
So what happened? Truthfully, the story isn’t really anything to write home about. (In fact, I didn’t… just ask my mom) While visiting some friends in the San Francisco Bay area in Northern California, I ended up breaking my leg on a miscalculation while making my way down a cliff to the beach. Apparently, jumping down a few feet wasn’t the best idea. Thankfully, as far as the trip was concerned, I had already had a really nice hike that day on Mount Diablo as well as spent a lot of time walking around the street art neighborhoods the day before. So it wasn’t completely null.
If there is one thing that an immobilizing injury does for you it is give you time to think and reflect. Life becomes instantly slower. You cannot do basic things; you have to plan a bit; and yes you may actually have to ask for help (all you hard-headed people out there – including myself). For an active person, it isn’t easy to go from full speed to asking for help in a day.
At the beginning, I was a bit down and demoralized, but I think that could be considered normal given the situation. However, new circumstances often yield a new way of looking at things. Since moving to New York, I don’t remember looking at too many handicapped or disabled people and empathizing with them. I’ll never forget the first day I locked eyes with a permanently disabled man. I was making my way down a walkway towards the subway and stopped to take a break. To my right, was a man who had pushed himself into one of the metal city chairs on the sidewalk from his wheelchair. As we looked at each other, I was contemplating whether he had the same thoughts as me or if his were different. Perhaps, I’ll never know. If I didn’t know by that time the chances of my injury being just a mere memory on the journey of life were pretty high whereas this sadly isn’t the case for everyone.
Kindness is an often subdued or repressed human characteristic in a big city. Let’s face it, New York City isn’t exactly known for it. For a city with a common motto: move fast or get outta the way, one wouldn’t expect much in a slow-moving situation. Ironically, this wasn’t the case though. I found kindness in people in many ways. For the most part, the hospitality that I received from others was extreme and even uncomfortable a few times. Random strangers would often go out of their way to help me. In the subways, they would hold the door for me or give up their sit. On the stairs, people would offer assistance or advice reminiscing back to their former injury. It was a unique experience and an interaction with my fellow New Yorkers and community members that I don’t think too many get to experience in the City.
Breaking my leg was probably the best worst thing that’s happened to me in a while; though, I obviously wouldn’t recommend it of course. It was an unwelcome and not premeditated but I think good things can come of such situations. The experience was a holistic one for me. It taught me to remember why I, and we, should appreciate the little things. I can tell you that I’ll never take advantage of just being able to take a walk again. Why is it that we always wait for the bad to feel the good? Be appreciative, be grateful, and give. Life’s too short to live otherwise.