Something to look forward to

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the slow pace of recovery following my Spinal Cord Injury (SCI). I have written about this before, about how challenging it is to work SO hard every day and focus so much of my energy on healing and recovery, yet accept that the changes and improvements come oh so slowly. (But the good news is that at least the improvements HAVE been occurring…).

Patience, as it turns out, is one of the most crucial factors for anyone wanting to recover from this devastating injury, and patience, as I’ve known my whole life, is absolutely NOT a quality that I embody.

Imagine living every day with no idea how soon your body will improve (if at all) and with no assurance that you’ll ever get to achieve your objectives. Imagine going through the majority of your day working towards a goal that may not be realized for a matter of months or years. That, in a nutshell, is what I mentally encounter and struggle with every morning when I wake up, and every night before I go to sleep. It’s enough to drive someone crazy, but thankfully I’ve maintained my sanity thus far. (Note: I will do my best to warn all of you with a cautionary blog post if I ever feel like I’m going over the edge…)

One tactic that has helped me maintain my focus and patience, is to always have something to look forward to.

This is something I’ve done my whole life actually, as a way of rewarding myself for completing a task or having the patience to get through a challenge, obstacle, adverse situation, or simply, a long wait. That said, it’s taken on a new precedence now as I use this tactic all the time to keep my concentration and focus on recovery intact, without getting overwhelmed by the daunting elements of time and uncertainty.

As long as I have something fun and positive to look forward to, it gives me a reason never to give up or lose patience of my ultimate goals. I tell myself that even though I may be frustrated or impatient right now, I gotta make it through to (insert event to look forward to here), and then I’ll reassess; no giving up before that. Once that event happens, I think of the next one and the process begins again.

I’m not necessarily referring to looking forward to huge, important moments or events. Most of the time, it’s as simple as a relaxed weekend brunch with my girlfriend, an upcoming meetup with friends, a trip to the swimming pool (one of my favorite therapies), or an afternoon in the park. It doesn’t take much. The beauty of this is that when there is a bigger thing to look forward to (i.e. a trip out of town), it motivates me even more and fuels me to keep working hard until I get to that moment.

I know it seems simple or obvious to point this out, but the fact that I’ve become so conscious of the importance of this tactic means to me that it’s worth acknowledging and appreciating.

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22 thoughts on “Something to look forward to

  1. This man is, of course, My Hero. Everyone of us should have the outlook every day of our lives. Never give up Arash – like that is likely 🙂 Best as always, Jack

  2. Incredible attitude Arash. I remain inspired by your outlook, especially because I know it doesn’t come easily. Keep at it!

  3. It’s such an important truth and I’m continuously impressed by your incredible perspective. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, we’re all so much better for it!

  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    In general, healthy people don’t have any concept of how simple each day becomes with serious health issues. Healthy people take life for granted. They assume anything is possible if you put in the time, education and physical/mental effort. But when the normal healthy ‘everyday’ is reduced dramatically, the smallest pleasure is meaningful. Feeling the weightlessness of being in a pool. Feeling someone’s caress or the wind on your face.

    Even just changing the scenery can be enjoyable (like a drive in the country or down a coastal road).

    Just being with the one you love in shared silence can be meaningful and uplifting. After a dramatic change of lifestyle, many people stay away because they think they don’t know what to say. They don’t understand that you’re still the same You inside. You still think, love and laugh. You still have feelings.

    Getting together with friends and laughing can bring joy into your life. Ensure you spend time with not only positive people (that support and uplift you), but realistic people who understand where you’re coming from and where you’re heading too. People who acknowledge how difficult your day can be. People who listen when you speak (not shrug you off with dismissive tones). People who have compassion and kindness (without being ‘soppy’ and ‘gushy’). People who treat you as normal (excepting that some physical activities are different for you).

    I believe in treats too – ensure you have some every week!

    1. Such thoughtful comments. Luckily I am surrounded by people who understand much of what’s going on with me and where I’m coming from and heading. And they’re not dismissive at all and certainly treat me as normal, but at the end of the day, no one really gets this situation. Not even the closest people to me can fully understand it, and I don’t expect them to. It’s such a terrible situation and the reality of it is one that only I can understand fully, and that’s ok. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better community of people and for that I’m grateful. Thanks for your thoughts as always. Best to you -AB

  5. Having something to look forward to makes life worth living, period… How many people are there out there who don’t take advantage of the abilities they have and are down in the dumps even though they *can* use their limbs, etc? We’ve talked about this… It still blows my mind. The minute we lose our sense of purpose and, thus, something to look forward to, is the minute we really, truly stop living.

    1. Yes I agree with you. I would say most people don’t know how lucky they are to have use of their bodies fully, even despite their own physical challenges. I guess I wouldn’t expect them to know but hopefully anyone reading my blog can at least think about these things a bit more and hopefully feel grateful for what they have. It’s great you have such a good perspective about this too. I respect that -AB

  6. Dude, I’m a big believer in rewards like that! Of course, I’m also a big believer in bribing myself! “When I hit this milestone or I complete this task, I get such and such reward.” 🙂 I’m much more inclined to work for it if I know I get a treat! So, I totally respect living in the now with an eye on the treat!
    As always, sending you good, healing energy as you continue forward on your path of recovery!

    1. You nailed it. I was thinking, when I was writing this post, that having something to look forward to doesn’t necessarily mean I lose sight of the now and being in the present. It’s just something to provide a little extra motivation, like you said -AB

  7. Having a purpose in your life is what makes most people feel motivated. The purpose in your life has necessarily changed due to your physical limitations. Since you are so articulate and obviously intelligent, you are having to use those attributes to give meaning to your life. This conversation you have started is an inspiration to many people. As time goes on, you will find ways to share your insights with others who are struggling, not only with physical disabilities, but with depression and other mental disabilities. That is a very worthwhile purpose in life. Your wonderful mind is a great tool for making a difference in the world. While you are working on regaining your bodily abilities, don’t forget to use your other gifts. Emulate Stephen Hawking. I am so impressed that he is still so engaged in the world, writing books, giving lectures, appearing on TV, despite being unable to move. You have the potential to make a big impact in the lives of others who are struggling with many types of problems.

    1. Your comments are evocative and helpful. I hope to continue to share insights with others and if they have a positive impact, then even better. I hope to make some kind of impact and am grateful for your thoughts. Thank you -AB

  8. When it comes down to it, life is really all about how many sunny afternoons you can spend with the people you love. Everything in the in between is just getting you ready for that. At least that’s how I get through my toughest challenges — focusing on how its going to make me better able to participate in and appreciate those afternoons of total joy and comfortable abandon.

    1. I completely agree. I think we get so wrapped up in figuring out how to make ourselves happy that we sometimes forget what exactly makes us happy. It’s all about those sunny afternoons no doubt 🙂 -AB

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