Do you inspire people? You might well do so, but without ever having considered yourself to be inspirational in any way. In fact most people that inspire others probably never actually set out to, yet others still gain inspiration from them.
I’m pretty certain that Gandhi for example never directly sought to inspire people in the fashion he did, but rather lived his life in a way he saw fit and that others ultimately found inspirational.
What inspires one person however doesn’t necessarily inspire another. Inspiration is deeply personal.
Inspiration also comes in many shapes and forms…
My son James (12) inspired me to write this post as it happens. During a recent shopping expedition we found ourselves in a music shop which had a selection of biographies of various musicians and artistes on display. One particular biography caught my eye, that of the Canadian teen singing sensation Justin Bieber. Both my son and I found this mildly amusing as the kid is only seventeen; hardly old enough to have a biography (a detailed account of a person’s life) you would have thought!
It was at this point that my son suggested I write my autobiography. “Why on earth would anyone want to read about my life?” was my initial response. His reply wasn’t entirely surprising considering my personal circumstances, but it was certainly uplifting and made me think. Whilst I can’t remember his reply verbatim, it was along the lines of: “…because of what you’ve done after your accident.”
The Accident in Question
The accident that my son refers to occurred on a Summer’s evening in July 2000 when I dived into my next door neighbour’s swimming pool, misjudged the dive and hit the bottom. I dislocated my neck at the third/fourth vertebrae (C3/C4) which left me paralysed from the neck down.
Following my accident it took me a long time to fully come to terms with things and accept that life was now completely different. Fortunately I did eventually manage to pull through and get on with life. I don’t dwell on the past anymore, I’m looking forward not backward and I’m still me, I just can’t move around as much.
I’ve never written such a personal post on my blog before, as that’s not what my blog’s about, plus I’ve always thought who’d care anyway. My blog’s about other things that I want to say or share with others, not about whining on about how unfair life can be. I don’t feel sorry for myself, so I certainly don’t expect others to feel sorry for me; it’s just not a big deal, I’m still here after all.
Inspired to Inspire
My son isn’t the only one encouraging me to write about my post apocalyptic experiences to “inspire” people however. A close friend of mine Jay, is a freelance journalist and has also suggested that I should consider writing a book as an inspirational piece for others. My full time carer (of nine years now) and constant companion Sue, also seems to think that this is a good idea; they’re ganging up on me! Now whilst I’m not completely dismissing the idea out of hand, I just don’t really get it. I’ve just got on with things (eventually), as I suspect most other people would have under similar circumstances, so where’s the inspiration in that?
If my son and my closest friends think that I could be inspirational to others, then I guess some of the things I’ve done after my accident could be considered inspirational, or perhaps rather, considered inspirational under the circumstances in which they were achieved.
So, what have I managed to do after my accident that may be worthy of consideration for such an accolade? Something I find extremely difficult to answer really as I’m far to close to it all to have an objective view, but I’ll have a stab it and you can make up your own minds:
- Completed my PhD in LASERS
- Elected to a Fellow in the Institute of Engineering and Technology
- Travelled to Greenland, Iceland and Norway on a cruise
- Travelled to South Africa for a month’s holiday
- Called up as an expert witness in a high court case in Ireland
- Visited the pyramids in Egypt (a bucket list goal of mine for a long time)
- Elected Chairman of my local village Parish Council
- Helped a friend set up a gardening website (attracting over 10,000 visitors every month)
- Set up my own advanced home network
- Raised over £1,000 for charity via a 17 mile sponsored trundle around Rutland water
- Recorded and produced podcasts and radio plays with an actress friend
- This website…
I also pootle about developing the odd website, it keeps me off the streets and gives me something to do; a therapeutic/technical challenge, which is the most important thing, to prevent the mind from turning to Swiss cheese.
Luckily, prior to my accident I was (still am I suppose) a Chartered Engineer and a Member of The Institute of Engineering and Technology (MIET). The IET have a benevolent fund that have been incredibly generous to me. They have helped me with the purchase of my bungalow and bought me a specially adapted vehicle that allows me to travel, plus they give me an annual holiday grant.
After my accident I never even considered the possibility of travelling again, certainly not of travelling abroad. Thanks to my carer Sue who is willing to tackle these things, she encouraged me that it was actually possible, since which I’ve achieved trips abroad that were beyond my wildest dreams after my accident.
Travelling away is always a bit of a mission for me due to all the associated paraphernalia that I have to take, especially when travelling abroad. My trip to the Egyptian pyramids for example required a huge amount of planning and military style logistics. Luckily it all worked out on the day, but not without a few hiccups along the way. Definitely an adventure that would have made entertaining viewing on reality TV. So if Michael Palin ever needs a travelling companion, just let me know!
Personally I don’t find my achievements particularly inspiring, but I am pleased even proud of some of the things I’ve done after my accident. If you find me, or anything I’ve achieved inspirational in any way, then I am deeply flattered and honoured to be considered so, but I have also only managed to do so with a great deal of assistance and support from others and in my defence, I never meant to be inspirational, I just did what I did; mitigating circumstances were at play.
Footnote: If any of my friends are reading this, then please share your comments below, you see it all from a completely different perspective to me and have also been part of my journey, for which I sincerely thank you.