The American Chronicle.
Friday, April 21, 2006.
Daniel Taverne is a legally blind disabled veteran living in Louisiana. After his service, he began college in the hopes of becoming a COTA. However, he became ill with an unknown condition with less than 1 semester of schooling left, forcing him to drop out while seeking treatment.
Please visit Daniel's Discussion board called Forward Observer.
author's web site
Aren't we lucky that we live in a nation where most of us have no worries about where we will sleep, or where our next meal will come from? Without these worries, we fine we are able, both physically and emotionally, to seek self actualization. That is, we have the time and energy to think about pursuing more enlightened endeavors that give us humans a sense of satisfaction and personal fulfillment.
On the other side of the coin however, what happens to handicapped and disabled people who have a lot of free time on their hands, but nothing to do with it? Have you ever heard the saying, "An idle mind is the devils playground"? This statement is a warning to all whose lives lack meaning and direction. Of course people do a lot of thinking, and given the right circumstances and enough time, they can convince themselves of many terrible things.
That said, after convincing themselves there is nothing they can do, people with disabilities, handicaps and debilitating chronic illnesses, are likely to lay around, eat, and watch a lot of TV which can diminish health. Furthermore, this poor health can make a person feel emotionally and mentally empty, and even physically drained of the energy it takes to attend to anything significant. If these feelings persist, it's a good bet that depression will soon follow.
If you are disabled or fighting a chronic illness, and as a result of your situation, you think, feel and believe there is nothing you can do, I submit (if you are not already depressed) that you are in danger of becoming so. There is hope though, since in many cases depression can be avoided or eliminated all together.
I speak from experience when I say this, because I became legally blind rather quickly and I had to deal with believing that because I could no longer drive or be the respected bricklayer that I was, that I could never again be happy. So I experienced my own subsequent depression. It wasn't until I decided, with resolve, that I wasn't going to be a 'victim' any more, that I was able to change my life.
How did I do this? The first thing I did was stop. That's right, I stopped dwelling on those things that I couldn't do. The second thing I did was consider. I considered how fortunate I was for the things that I 'could' do. In other words, I counted my blessings. The third thing I did was 'took action'.
Without hesitation, I began writing again. I realized that being creative with words is something I really enjoyed in college. I found some places on the inter net that would publish my articles and even though I wasn't getting paid for them, I still felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction knowing that others were reading my work.
Another thing I did was begun exercising. Every night before I go to sleep, I do what I call "my push-ups". My push-ups consist of as many as I can do at one time, then I add ten more which really taxes my muscles and forces them to respond. Amazingly, after 5 months, I can do up to 100 push-ups at one time. When I started out, I could only do 25.
Additionally, I have a weight set that I also work with on a regular basis.
The latest thing I decided to do that gives me a great sense of satisfaction is volunteer two or three days a week at a physical therapy clinic and help the therapists when I can, working with both kids and adults. I especially enjoy working with the kids because I know they have most of their lives ahead of them and therefore need every advantage that can be afforded to them.
If you are disabled, after reading the above you may be asking your self, what can I do? Not to worry, there is plenty for you to do if you stop and think. Below are some ideas for you to consider.
First, if you don't already attend worship services, you could find a church to attend, or depending on your disability, maybe you could begin a walking club that gets together once a week at someone's house for coffee. Maybe you dabbled in painting at one time, finding that you really enjoyed it, and maybe it's time for you to once again pick up your paints. For you, something as simple as getting a pet to care fore might brighten up your life. It's all up to you.
Maybe you have a chest full of odds and ends that need sorting. You could go through it with a friend and talk about items you find that are important to you. Perhaps you have a lot of loose pictures stuffed here and there throughout your home that you could use to start creating scrap books. You could, for example, create a different book for every member of your family, or each significant event. If this isn't for you, you could simply purchase a few photo albums and fill them instead.
Maybe you would like to grow a flower, or vegetable garden, but it's too difficult for you to turn the soil. In this event you could call a friend or relative over to help you, or you could plant in containers with potting soil.
There is something else you could do. You could write letters to distant relatives you haven't heard from in some time. Additionally, if you wanted to, you could get the addresses to some military units abroad, and send them your warm wishes. Who knows, you might even become friends with someone and become his/her pen pal.
If you have the health and have a means of transportation, you might consider volunteering at a local boys/girls club, a physical therapy clinic, or nursing home. Places such as these always need help, and positively influencing the minds and bodies of others could go a long way in giving your life a sense of meaning.
Ultimately, as I've tried to illustrate, your life can once again have meaning and you can find happiness. After all, this happiness is not a goal that you may or may not reach, it's an attitude that you can decide to wear everywhere like a nice shirt, and the way you put it on is by 'doing' something that gives your life meaning. Finally, remember my steps: Stop, consider, and take action. No matter how old you are, or what your difficulty is, these steps will help you see life still has a lot to offer and that true satisfaction, fulfillment and happiness is only attained through "doing".
End of article.
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