Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Inspiration

About two months ago I was working the front desk at Third Street Gym when two women walked in the door seeking answers to questions I was not prepared for. The older woman's son had suffered a stroke three years prior and it left both of his legs atrophied. While he was not paralyzed, he was able to walk only with the assistance of a walker and was prone to falling. The younger woman, his sister, explained to me that physical therapy had not helped, partially because he had never fully warmed up to it. The one thing that had managed to peak his interest all these years? Boxing. He was an avid fan with the ability to recite the names and dates of fighters, the outcome of bouts with a clarity that belied the impairment the stroke had left. They had come to the gym desperate to find the connection between happiness and will that so many of us seek. Although I am not experienced in the field of physical therapy (as I made clear), the opportunity to help someone and further my understanding of the human mind in times of need was one I could not pass up. I offered my assistance with the disclaimer that we could walk away if it proved to be to arduous of a task for either parties.

When I met my new client one week later, we were both hooked. He looked around and saw the heavy bags, the many fight posters adorning the walls, the rawness that hits you when you walk into a true boxing gym, and a grin, that I now recognize as one that goes from ear to ear, settled on his face.

Over the past months I have been given an insight into a whole new world. One that exists on a couch in a dark room with nothing but the TV for comfort. I have never stopped to think about what it would be like to have a disability that made such things as going to the park a distant memory. Feeling that to go outside is to be poked and stared at, laughed at and whispered about. I am so used to my world, one of constant activity, where even a bad workout is still a workout. So much noise and laughter, pain and sadness, highs and lows. It's as if someone put the brakes on all of that and there is suddenly nothing but silence.

Yet, at the same time, I have also been given insight on what it is to truly want. To one day metaphorically stand up and say; I am no longer willing to sit and take this. The human mind is truly an amazing mechanism. To see so vividly the correlation between what the brain wants and what it is willing to work for. It really is all about chemistry. You put something in front of someone that makes them smile, that makes them feel, and they will suddenly do nothing to stop themselves from grabbing that carrot.

I am elated to report that two weeks ago, I witnessed my client take his first unassisted steps for the first time in three years, and we have been gaining momentum ever since. It's a slow process, a tedious one, but it is one that gives me hope and makes me feel more fulfilled than I've ever been. So I thank you Mr. X. For changing my life and helping me gain new perspective. Your struggles have changed the way one person sees the world.