Think nobody is watching? Pay attention!

Think nobody is watching? Pay attention!

In a manner of speaking we are all on stage. We are all performers in front of different audiences. It could be among co-workers, family members, neighbors, a church community or exercise group. We are constantly being observed. People form impressions from the voice tone we use, what we say, how we make eye contact, our non-verbal expressions, behaviors, questions we ask and how we listen.

I used to think that we were all so consumed with our own lives that time was rarely available to take notice of others. After all, we are so busy with daily living and managing our own situations – family, profession, recreation, spirituality, financial and relational – that there is little if any time to observe others and consider what may be going on in their lives.

I know that was the case in my life up until I suffered a catastrophic injury in 2007. My athletic passion at that time was road cycling. Prior to 2007 I also enjoyed a number of other sports, like rowing (crew), running, golf, skiing, squash, tennis to name a few. Unfortunately, in June 2007, I was involved in a very bad road cycling accident. The vertebrae in my neck were damaged along with the vertebral artery on the right side of my neck. The central cord at the C7 level was also damaged and as a consequence was rendered an incomplete quadriplegic. I have paralysis from my mid-abdomen down to my toes.

So began a decade long, and counting, hard-fought recovery journey to try and recover lost function and gain as much independence as possible. At this time in my life I have been fortunate to regain a considerable amount of lost fine and gross motor function, so much so that I can exercise, drive, and work again – all without accommodation.

In the early years of my recovery I used to walk a lot, up to 2 miles. It was labored, and difficult but still managed to push through and make progress in those first 3 years post injury. On one of those walks a FEDEX truck comes up from behind me and stops on the other side of the road. A kind looking, middle-aged man gets out of the truck, crosses the street, and starts walking toward me. When my body senses any anxiety it goes rigid making it very difficult to move. I stopped. He introduced himself as Mike. Mike went on to tell me he had been driving this route for years (the same one I was walking), noticed I had some kind of impairment, and over time had seen considerable improvement. He had wanted to stop for months to commend my persistent effort, even through rain and wind. I thanked him, gave him a hug, and he resumed his route.

I told my mental health therapist this story. She remarked, “Jamie, you gave him something – hope.” She continued, “You never know what may be going on in a person’s life, and seeing you out there every …read more
Source: Steven Aitchison