After a day like yesterday, there really is no way to recover other than to put one (figurative) foot in front of the other. That sounds really easy when even your figurative feet aren’t in working order. My chair was officially dead when I woke up this morning, meaning there would be no drunk driving through the casino. Instead of sitting downstairs to connect with my peers at the conference, it was strictly Flintstone-Foot Power courtesy of The Bobbseys to the wheelchair shop at 9 AM sharp. As usual, what followed was a complicated process.
What was expected to and be a relatively quick fix, turned into another wild goose chase that ended five hours later with me driving out of there in a Frankenstein-esque contraption I can barely drive, and what was left of my original ride being boxed up and shipped back home. As I limped my way towards the van, the gravity of the last 24 hours finally hit me.
I could’ve been all wound up that I had to watch updates of the Hawks game on the ESPN app of my phone instead of on a 37 story-high big-screen that I’m sure they have somewhere in this town. I could’ve been all wrapped up in anger and fear that I was missing such a huge opportunity to connect with paralysis survivors from all over the country. I could’ve been pissed that yet another vacation was devolving into the proverbial four letter word: T-R-I-P. I could’ve been in an all-around, justifiably shitty mood for all those reasons above and more, but I wasn’t.
If the last 12 years have taught me nothing else, it’s that there is some cosmic reason for how and when Life decides to show up. I’ve learned that things happen when they happen for reasons that may not be revealed until days, weeks or even years later, but eventually the purpose is found. Instead of focusing on the countless connections I perceived I was missing out on by being late to the conference, all I had to do was looked down at the man crawling around my chair, sweating through his NuMotion T-shirt to truly appreciate the one connection I had made.
I feel like the idea of heroism has become grossly distorted in today’s culture. Our misplaced obsessions have us looking to celebrities, athletes and multibillion dollar, CGI-infused movie franchises for our heroes. Then there’s guys like Steve Medina, an Afghanistan Vet, devoted husband and father of a kindergartner with another on the way who skipped dinner and a chance to watch his Niners with his family to help a stranger in distress. He’ll never be on Dancing with the Stars, sign a multimillion dollar contract. or have an action figure made in his likeness. In fact, he didn’t even get paid for the 8+ hours he slaved away over the past two days trying to restore my mobility and independence, piecing together a wildly imperfect, but perfectly functional loaner chair with the the few parts he had laying around. For him, it was just another day at the office. For me, it was a game changer. He was my road trip hero. Maybe I’ll send him a customized cape to say thanks. On second thought, spandex. Definitely spandex.
At the end of the day, we made it to the conference with two hours left to spare, where I happened upon a table with a couple of guys who also were both paralyzed in skiing/snowboarding accidents. I guess I arrived right when I was supposed to. Now I get to take my special lady friend out to Cirque du Soleil to celebrate the eve of our one year anniversary, Las Vegas style. Yeah, my life isn’t so bad after all.