“You’re lucky, you’ve always been disabled. I used to have a life. I used to play basketball. I used to have a regular job. Now all I have is this lousy wheelchair.” Yes, I’ve been disabled since birth. But what is missing here is individual potential, no matter the life differences.
I recently met John (not his real name) through the Internet. He had read a couple of my columns from the Internet and started writing to me. At first, he said he read them just for grins. Then he told me what had happened.
John was in a car accident about a year ago. He was paralyzed from the waist down, the other driver was killed. After several months of recuperation he went back to his job, a salesman, just to find out he had been replaced. The company apparently felt he couldn’t do his job anymore and hired someone new.
He told me he was looking for another job in sales, but was having a difficult time.
“I’m just fed up.”
Basketball used to be something John did after a long day at work. He liked trying different shots for the hoop. Now he says he just watches it on television.
“I know I won’t be able to play basketball again,” John said. “Why’d this have to happen to me?”
I wrote back to him one simple line: “You’re still alive! The other driver isn’t.”
A couple of days went by before I heard from him again. I asked him if he read the column about my job and how hard it was for me to get it. He said he had and that he was getting the same types of responses.
“They think just because I’m in a wheelchair that I can’t do person to person sales anymore.”
I tried to encourage him to keep going no matter what people said. I told him the only way to succeed is if you believe you can.
I wrote to him, “You remember the first time you tried to ride a bicycle, you would always fall over. Something always made you get back on and try again. This is almost the same thing. You have to go to the employer and show them that you can do the job just like anyone else can.”
In some of my letters I mentioned to him about playing basketball again. At first he asked me how. I told him that all he had to do is go down to his local gym and find out where he could get into a game of wheelchair basketball. He was skeptical about it, but looked into it.
John wrote back to me a couple of weeks later and said he was still looking for a job, but is looking with a better outlook. A close friend is driving him around to interviews.
He also said he found a group of guys that played every Thursday night. After watching a couple of games, he decided to join in.
“This is more challenging than regular basketball. But, I’m getting the hang of it.”
Although John isn’t able to enjoy some things he used to, he lives every day to the fullest. The last line of the letter was the greatest: “Guess what, Bill? This summer I’m going to be driving again!”
Originally written in 1996, I wanted to share this again to awaken the potential each of us contains.