Saturday, June 16, 2012
The Hero Returns
I have died, yet here I am. I am not talking about any near death experience. There was no light to go to, there was no comforting voice welcoming me or telling me to go back. No, I died. The person driving my pick-up truck was killed in the accident. The body that they kept "alive" at the hospital is inhabited by a different person.
In the classic Hero tale, a person dies or leaves, returns, and is changed. Sometimes this change is subtle, sometimes it is quite profound, but it is quite clear that they are different and not quite of this world in the same sense as everyone else.
It is also never a trip taken lightly and the passing of the person is mourned, the returning Hero is often times not really accepted because they are so different yet eerily similar.
That is how I would describe myself after my accident, eerily similar. I am most definitely not the same. With Brain Injury, the twist on the classic Hero's tale is that the new incarnation is not initially superior, far from it! The so called Hero is, in fact, quite dependent and needy. And so, with fits and starts, I began to construct a new me. I did not try and reconstruct the old me, that was not an option. This took a couple of years to realize and come to terms with.
It was in the act of reconstructing myself that I realized two important things. The first was that I could not be what I was because that would require this new person to not have a brain injury; the notion of "recovery" became quixotic. The second was that I had an opportunity, both rare and unheralded, to become a better person.
Enter the Hero.
I had no idea what the Hero would be like. Piece by piece and hurdle by hurdle I reconstructed my identity. I succeeded at things I would never have attempted before, achievements where the effort did not seem commensurate with the result. Things that I would have considered not worth trying. Things that I would have called too hard. Accomplishments where the result, no matter how gratifying, paled in comparison to the willingness to persevere.
In this process I become not the end but the means to the end. I trade a life for the living of a life. I am this or I am that becomes simply, I am. The power of 'I am' opens a door to a myriad of bright possibilities. I was static, I am dynamic. I can't always succeed, but I can always try. These are the guiding principles of the Hero.