Recovery is my religion

I’ve never been a religious person. Throughout my life, I’ve generally taken a more or less scientific approach to religious belief and struggled with the notion of believing in something that can’t be proven. But ever since doctors told me that they could not predict my healing and that it would be wise to prepare never to walk again, I discovered my own religion: my 100% recovery. 

Ok I’m not trying to get into a big existential discussion on religion or God or an afterlife, so just bear with me. All I’m saying now is that my injury has taught me to accept that it’s perfectly reasonable, and commendable, to believe in something that can’t necessarily be proven. Even immediately after my injury, in the most pain I’ve ever experienced and unable to feel most of my body, I refused to believe that my body was permanently damaged. I decided right then and there, that no matter how difficult the process and how long the recovery, I would get back to my feet and walk again. This belief only gets stronger with every day that passes.

I refuse to accept defeat, I refuse to embrace a life in a chair, I refuse to consider for one second that I won’t eventually stand up and walk on my own two legs, yet I have no proof for this. As I’ve written before, there are no specific prognoses for people with Spinal Cord Injury. Doctors don’t specify that a percentage of people with my injury do recover, and how can they really, since it’s hard to define what “recovery means exactly. It can mean something different to different people. I recently overheard another SCI patient say that as long as she could use her hands and get back to work, she would be happy. That was the objective of her recovery and she would probably adjust her expectations and goals accordingly. Well, that’s NOT the case for me.

I want to run and bike and stand and sprint and hike and stroll and stand atop mountains and swim in alpine lakes and do all of the things I love. There is no holy book outlining my beliefs but this doesn’t stop me from believing wholeheartedly in the possibility, and eventual reality, that I will recover fully. Many of the therapists I encounter in the conventional, Western approach tell me the main goal of recovery from an injury like this is to become “as independent as possible”. In other words, they can’t predict that I will recover and get back to normal (another nebulous and subjective term) so they suggest I adapt to whatever my current situation is and become “as independent as possible”. Every time I hear this, it makes my skin crawl. Maybe this is like a member of the Latter Day Saints church trying to articulate the beliefs of Mormonism to a Buddhist monk who has taken a vow of silence. Or vice versa. Each person may respect the other’s right to believe what they want, but the belief systems could not be more different. Well, the same goes for me.

I honestly don’t care what doctors or anyone else tells me anymore, because I KNOW, with every drop of blood I have in my body, that I WILL walk again. My recovery is my religion, and I am the most devout, fundamentalist believer.

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10 thoughts on “Recovery is my religion

  1. You are a true inspiration Arash. I completely believe in you… I support your recovery religion and want to make plans to go on that Alpine hike with you. When I think of you, I have never thought of you in a chair and will continue to picture you outside, laughing, dancing, hiking.. you name it 🙂

    The power of positive thinking has never felt so good… You got THIS!!!!!

  2. Hi Arash,
    I totally agree with you! Whatever picture you have in your mind will become your reality!!!!!
    You’d enjoy the books written by MIKE DOOLEY.
    Keep on keeping on.

  3. This is your power Arash — never let anyone attempt to mess with it. The is a huge issue around healthcare practitioners (unintentionally) setting patients up for failure simply by planting seeds of pessimism or “realistic expectation”. Just like the Janine demonstrated in the amazing TED video you posted ~ your own inner fire and determination can be fiercely more determining than any statistical analysis of your case, or medical person’s best guess. Keep your warrior spirit alive always — it will serve you!! ~ x Robyn

  4. Right on! Great post. Just keep on believing …. and working. Love you man. You are truly an inspiration. May 2013 be a good year for you.

  5. Disclaimer: I am a little biased because I am a religious (yet very open) person.

    I’m going to poorly re-write the words of some scientist, also going to be lazy because I’m not going to look up where I got this analogy from. (But firstly, I am a scientist. A passionate observer of life/physical reality.)

    But it is said that even in science, there are things that are accepted, yet not “proven” to the concrete extent one would assume in this field. For example, it is said that God/spirituality is like an electron. We cannot see an electron. We cannot say where it is, only the probability of where it may be orbiting about a nucleus. But somehow, we know its mass. More importantly, we can see its effects: magnetism, electricity, etc. This is what I adore about science: it gives me so many analogies about life in general.

    In short, this is how I see my Faith, whether it is in my religion, in my hope for the world, or in my prayers for others. This is not something tangible, not something that I can always identify. But I know the properties of constructive beliefs AND I can see their effects. Miracles are simply things we do not yet understand. And they are as real as my words to you all here. Cheers~!!

    1. Great perspective Sig. Yes you’re right that there are many things in science that are not necessarily proven. In fact, I’m not a scientist at all so my lack of religious faith has less to do with thinking that science proves what religion can’t. I think there is room for both in the world. This post was mostly meant to highlight that I now appreciated the belief in intangible things more than I used to and that I can identify more with people who are deeper into spirituality or religion than I used to. Cheers to you for sharing your thoughts -AB

  6. […] different angles. I’ve learned about the meaning of faith and how I’ve been able to interpret my own understanding of what I believe in, and why. I’ve learned about the surprises that can come from waking up one morning and discovering that […]

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