So It Took a Pandemic to Write a Post?

It’s been a while. Almost two years. And yes, it does appear that this pandemic and the mandatory “shelter-in-place” orders that I and many others (and probably all of us soon) are dealing with was the kick in the butt for me to share an update. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, because I most certainly have. It seems that having a dog and a cat wasn’t enough of a challenge for Brita and me, so we decided to add another being into the household. (Why only pick up poop for two animals when the smelly world of diapers awaits!)

Last year we had the incredible joy of welcoming our daughter, Yara, into our family. I won’t even try to describe the feeling of becoming a father because, frankly, I can’t. No post or update could even begin to sum up the magnitude of this monumental experience. All I will say is that all the cliches I’ve heard are true. It’s beautiful and transformative and magical and challenging and humbling and everything else. More than anything, it’s given me a new purpose, joy and objective in life.

I started writing this blog simply as a means of keeping my family and close friends informed of the steps in my recovery from spinal cord injury. Unexpectedly, it grew and turned into something so much bigger than I ever expected. Throughout this growth, I promised myself that I would only write and post my thoughts here when it came from a genuine place and a true desire to share something that I felt needed to be shared. Nothing forced or contrived and no posting just for the sake of posting.

As it turned out, the impetus for me writing my book was the feedback and comments I received from so many of you. I would have never had the idea of pouring countless hours into trying to publish a book – a truly insane and financially stupid endeavor – had it not been for the reception I received from readers of this blog. I’m forever grateful to all of you for that. While my book is not in the top 10, or 100, or 1,000, or 10,000 on the bestseller list, I have zero regrets. Completing the book and getting my story out there has been fulfilling in and of itself.

But the truth is that after publishing the book, finding numerous ways of seeking press, giving book talks and interviews on my story, all the while continuing to do speaking engagements, I was TIRED. Tired of chronicling everything, tired of putting myself out there, tired of trying to reach more and more people, and tired of hearing myself talk (17 hours in a studio reading and recording the audiobook version of my memoir magnified this to another level…).

Self-promotion just doesn’t come naturally to me which – I’m well aware – makes me an awkward fit for our current time. It’s also why I participate so little in social media. Condensing my thoughts into 280 character tweets, or snapping “perfect” instagram shots with clever hashtags, or competing with puppies, babies and semi-coherent political rants on Facebook… just ain’t my thing.

Which brings me to this moment. I still choose this medium for sharing because I like it the best. For the record, I’m still working hard on my recovery, doing everything I can to get stronger everyday, and seeking the most effective ways to do so. But I’m no longer certain that my posts and updates can be limited to the state of my physical recovery from here on out. And I’m not sure I want them to be. There’s a lot that I want to share beyond my injury or my physical body and this seems like a great opportunity to expand the scope of my website to be something more.

My love of cooking and my passion for food as healing; my experiences traveling near and far; my challenges and successes with fatherhood; my impressions on a society where – despite what we’re led to believe – people seem further and further disconnected from each other, and from the planet – these are some of the themes I look forward to exploring and sharing more about here.

I guess it’s fitting that on this 100th post of my blog, I’m changing things up. Blame it on the pandemic and I hope you’ll stick around for the ride.   🙂

*****

Like everyone else, I’ve been doing my best to remain sane and healthy while staying at home and praying that COVID19 doesn’t get me. For years now, swimming has been my main form of exercise and I’ve never gone more than a couple of days without getting in the pool. The water is my happy place, where I can clear my mind, relieve my daily physical pain, and where I have the most physical freedom. (I’ve written about it many times like here, here and here).

With all the pools closed for weeks, and unable to turn my bathtub into a workable substitute, I had to get creative. Despite the fact that I live next to the ocean, I don’t love swimming in it. Waves and currents are difficult with how I swim and the water is bone-numbingly frigid at its very warmest. But desperate times call for desperate measures. So the other day Brita and I dusted off our wetsuits and thermal caps and decided to jump into the bay. Within 30 seconds, I had that familiar splitting headache across my forehead from the ~55°F water, but it receded with every stroke and I was able to focus on the birds and sky above, and take a much needed mental break from anything having to do with quarantines, hand washing, and impending economic collapse. No need to worry about social distancing when the only thing around me are seagulls and kelp. It was joyful, necessary and extremely fulfilling.

I hope all of you are able to find your own little version of this for yourselves, and create some space and calm during this surreal and bizarre time.

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24 thoughts on “So It Took a Pandemic to Write a Post?

  1. thanks Arash! big ups to you and your growing family! stay healthy and keep on swimmin!

    Big hug,

    Cristian

  2. Arash, so happy to get your blog. As in the past I admire your creativity. Maybe many more will follow your example and put on a wet suit and go for a swim.

    Meeting you and Brita through my son Max in Big Sky a couple of years ago was indeed special.

    Would love to continue hearing from you.

    With fond regards,

    Renata

  3. So good to hear from you, AB…far too much has happened since last I wrote to you, kids are older, nearly all out of school but for the youngest (another story), he would gain tremendously by being around you and your family…he had some forks in the road…youngest daughter, Mary, on schedule to graduate with a BSN from University of Portland on May 3rd, but the graduation is now ‘virtual’…very cool nonetheless.
    You may remember Chuck and I share the same birthday–March 19th…he was 80 last week, I’m now 71…gosh…last I heard he and Elyse were in Chile and having a tough time getting back, that could have changed…
    As a dad of 6, I chuckle at your diaper story…that part takes awhile…our kids are the best part of life…challenging, heartbreaking, chest swelling, fulfilling, pride, inspiring, all the standard adjectives..lucky you and Brita to have all those wonderful years in front of you..

    Catch up sometime, would love to talk about life…

    Best to you all…Dan Stewart

  4. So good to hear from you. It’s been a long time.. Congrats to you two with a new baby, WOW!

    Keep Posting, You keep us uplifted!

    ________________________________

  5. Hey Arash! Great to hear from you! Keep the updates coming always enjoy reading your posts. Glad you are doing well in this crazy time we find ourselves in.
    Take care!

  6. Arash – So good to hear from you – missed your always inspiring posts. But understand how you now have other priorities. We get together once this scourge has passed. Only to hope its wake is not as dire as predicted. Fondly.

  7. Welcome to the dad club, Arash! I’ve got two daughters (1 and 4), so I know what you mean about the experience. I know you’ll want great father. Glad to hear you’re all staying safe from the Coronavirus

  8. It’s great to read your update, that you’re well and healthy, and to read your news about your daughter – congratulations!

  9. So good to hear an update! Glad to see you are finding ways to stay active. Hopefully you still have your CoreAlign and can do some home workouts on that. Hope to see you around soon once we are all able to communicate in person again.

    1. I know seriously! Yeah I’m doing what I can with the CoreAlign and standing frame. Luckily, I can keep swimming too as long as I can brave the water. Hope you’re well -AB

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