Three years ago, while having a conversation with a dear friend who I met during a personal development seminar, I blurted out the words, “I’m not my story.” I said these words with conviction, power and assertion, and I knew there was truth to them. It was the type of truth that feels oh, so right momentarily! But then are followed by endless doubts about the very truth you would have died for just a second ago. To make matters worse, she snapped right back with a very disturbing, “Are you afraid of being a victim?” That question cut at my ego like a rusted blade. I rebutted back with a 15-minute well-elaborated dissertation so that I could convince myself what was coming out of my mouth had been deeply analyzed and accepted as a big part of my essence.
We were freshly out of this particular personal development seminar —one that did not make us feel cozy and protected. We came out more inquisitive, thirsty and devoid of every single thing we thought defined ourselves. So, what I was really saying when I told her “I’m not my story” was this: I refuse to believe that I am only a fragment of my entire story. In that seminar, my accident was still a big issue. I was still delusionally thinking my entire life was reduced to the — then — past four years of my life. But those four years were merely a fraction of a second of my entire lifetime.
Recently, I received an email from Upworthy relating the account of the Apollo 8 astronauts’ paradigm shift after seeing the Earth hanging from space. They turned around the “home camera” to film outside the window of the space shuttle and seeing Earth for the very first time from afar, in space, gave them an entirely different perspective about life.
Acquiring a disability can have that affect, too. Here we are. Some of us with a visible disability, others with disabilities hidden from the human eye.
I am writing this blog because, as I devour the information I come across everyday in the virtual world, I am more than sure that I AM my story. Affirming this does not limit me, nor does it impale me with doomed predictions about my future. It makes me whole. This affirmation integrates my past, present and future into one, because no matter what happens “to” me or “for” me, it will eventually crack open a crevice of myself I did not yet know. My job is to continually look at myself with the lens of a far away spectator so that I can assimilate the big picture — just like the Apollo 8 astronauts.
The balance of living the now and detaching from it is one that has to be learned, I believe. And it is one that is so worthy of learning. That is because when we give some distance to what we think is consuming the essence of us, we realize how small the issue really is. Hey, even Queen Elsa from Frozen agrees, as she sings, “It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small.” We may be caught in the middle of a hurricane in our lives and we sit right in the eye, overwhelmed by what has passed and what’s to come. How about we take the perspective of a satellite view of the storm and realize that not only will it pass, but it’s rather small in the big scheme of things.
Follow Camile F. Araujo: