Life isn’t always roses. There have been times for me, as I am sure there have for you, when everything seemed just too hard.
I have lost those I did not think I could live without; and there was a time when I was so burdened by a sense of guilt that I could barely function.
There were other moments when I have clung to that one last long shot that would bring about financial reprieve; then that fell over too. I have known acute failure, as most writers do. There have been times I looked in the shaving mirror and muttered: ‘You suck.’
But this is nowhere near as bad as it gets. I have two friends right now struggling with situations that are as close to a waking nightmare as you could possibly imagine. I just don’t know how they drag themselves out of bed every day.
Some people don’t, of course. There are other options and, sadly, they take them.
Whenever I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, or I feel like giving up, I take a look at this guy:
Nick was born with Tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder that left him without all four limbs. He does however have two toes and a foot – he calls it his flipper.
As a child he was prevented from enrolling at a mainstream school because of his disability. When he was finally allowed entrance he was very badly bullied and struggled with loneliness and depression. Who wouldn’t? He says that at 8 he contemplated suicide. At 10 he tried to drown himself in his bath.
But one day his mother showed him a newspaper article about someone else who had overcome a severe disability and he realized he wasn’t alone in his struggle.
Inspired, he learned to write using his only toes and even used to learn a computer keyboard. He then taught himself to get a glass of water, comb his hair, brush his teeth and shave.
By grade seven (11 years old) he was elected captain of the school.
At 17 he started his own non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs. At 21 he graduated with a double major in accounting and financial planning.
He now runs a new organization in California called Attitude is Altitude. He presents motivational speeches like the one above, to corporations, church congregations and schools right around the world.
His mission: to encourage people never to give up, by being a living example that struggle leads to strength. He markets a DVD for young people titled: No Arms, No Legs, No Worries.
As you see from the video he also has a wicked sense of humour. (“This boy came up to me and goes ‘WHAT HAPPENED!?’ I go, ‘CIGARETTES!’ “)
He likes to embrace his audience physically as well as emotionally, as you can also see in the video (“If you leave here without a hug, I’m going to run after you. And if you run fast, I’m gonna get someone to throw me at you.”)
If you fall over a hundred times, and you fail, the important thing is trying one more time. I like to remember that now whenever things in my well favoured life get a little tough. If he can do it, so can I.
And I hope you, too, find some measure of inspiration in the life of Steve Vujitic.