change being thrust upon us is a funny thing.
It’s not so much the change being funny, but us being funny in how we react to change.
A spinal cord injury (SCI) brings this funny business into clear view in ways you wouldn’t have possibly dreamt. I was surprised by my attachments and the meaning I made up about why those things are important. It took some pretty funny catalysts for me to let go of these attachments and redefine the meaning I gave them.
In my journey, a great example of attachment and making up meaning is driving a car. I was given the basic information on how to get back on the road, driving as a paraplegic, while in rehab:
- Get instruction and sign-off from an accredited adaptive driving instructor
- a certified installer will install hand controls in your car.
The process is pretty straight forward.
but what I had made up in my mind was not so simple.
In my mind, if I gave in to driving with hand controls, then I was giving up on my focus and belief that I would walk again. And as any new SCI will tell you, the desire to walk again is very potent stuff.
But as human beings, we don’t always attach our desires and drive to the most logical and helpful things.
Sometimes, we need help unpacking our attachments – whether it be through peer counseling, professional counseling, or just sheer necessity of our circumstances.
This is a story of sheer necessity:
When I was released from rehab I moved in with my parents.
It was a shock for me, a very independent thirty-something-year-old, and it was a shock for them, as very content empty-nesters.
It didn’t take long for this living situation to break me of this meaning I had attached to driving. After six weeks of confinement to my parent’s house, I needed to get out and about at-will and ASAP.
A mentor of mine likes to say, ‘Guess what? You can walk, chew gum, and cry all at the same time.’
I decided I could still retain my desire, focus, and belief I’ll walk again; AND at the same time learn to drive with hand controls.
Once I made that simple but not-so-simple shift in mindset, I didn’t wait for the instruction, certification, and hand-control installation process. I bought some bolt-on controls on Amazon, got in a car with a friend, and drove to Starbucks. I didn’t even let not having my wallet stand in my way.
I have been on the road ever since. I’ve driven to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Tucson multiple times by myself with no trepidation.
Eventually, I got the certification and had permanent, secure hand controls installed in my car.
fast forward to today and I have another attachment hiding in plain sight.
My social media profile picture.
Every few months, Facebook has been not so subtly reminding me that my profile might be old and not representative of me today.
Oh Facebook, how did you know?
You see, Mr. Zuckerberg et al., I’ve been holding on to that 5-year-old picture for very personal, measured, vain, irrational, and intentional reasons.
This picture was taken by a friend as I crossed the finish line at the 2015 Wildflower Triathlon. I was proud of that picture because of the accomplishment, but also because it was looking buff. I was getting into the best shape of my life and I was getting close to 40.
I decided that I was going to keep that picture as my social media profile as my last bit of resistance to the physical specimen that I am now, confined to a wheelchair.
I’ll give in to hand controls and I’ll give in to handcycling and racing wheelchairs. But no, Universe, I’m holding onto this profile picture as my last daily reminder as to what was and what I want my life to look like again.
But you know what, I’m ready to admit I’m being silly.
I’m just ready. I’ve actually been ready for awhile now. Ready to change my attachments and meaning I give to this wildly insignificant thing.
Times they are a changin’.
It might be a good time to assess your attachments and reassess the meaning given to them. What is holding you back in silly or maybe not-so-silly and significant ways?