by Adam Helbling on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 3:23pm ·
What would you do if you were given a second chance at life? At what expense would you give to have that second chance? Would you give an arm or a leg? Would you give your sight or your hearing? I was given this second chance but at an expense and there is no amount of money that I would not pay to get it all back. Some things are just more valuable than money. Imagine not having your arms or your legs, your vision, or even your hearing. Imagine not having the ability to feel hot and cold or to be able to feel something soft against your skin. These things I know are hard to imagine but there are many people who live this way. My goal is to reach out and remind you of these people and to remind you how lucky you are to not have to live this way. To live a normal life and to be able to experience everything great there is to enjoy on this Earth. I lived that way for 24 years of my life and now having so much taken away has given me incredible insight into just how great life can be.
Many people tell me that they just can imagine what it would be like to live the way I am living. I will tell you that every day is a struggle. Even some of the simplest tasks from before my accident are just a huge frustration. What I will tell you is that it has gotten a little easier. That everyday life gets a little brighter and I can see that light at the end of the tunnel. But I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. If you knew me before my accident you would know that patience was not one of my strong points. But today patience means everything. If you don’t have patience then you could not handle this life. Patience means laying flat on your back in your bed for a couple hours if you wake up early in the morning for someone to help you get out of bed. It means taking a process like getting ready in the morning that should take 30 minutes to now taking nearly 2 hours.
In this new life you must find peace and you must be content with being left out sometimes. This past summer I spent a lot of time just not being able to handle certain situations. I would break down and cry and just be so angry about my situation. I cried when my friends left for Cedar Point. I cried when my dad, my brother and some of my friends took the boat to the lake for the day. When they got me in the boat at my godfather’s lake and drove down through the slalom course I could not take it. I saw myself rounding every buoy but it was just a fantasy and not something I would ever do again. When I see people on campus riding their longboards it just brings me back to the good times before my accident. I watch people outside my window playing soccer, hockey, catch, and many other sports and it just kills me to know that it’s just not an option for me. I even just sit there and watch people take steps. So many people can walk and run and do whatever they wish with their bodies but why not me? So many people that have this ability still just sit around and do nothing all day. Why take away these abilities from a kid who did walk and run, and ski, and longboard, and work out, and play Frisbee golf all the time, and went camping, and enjoyed every day of his life and took advantage of the world around him? Why me and why not someone who just sat on their ass all day long anyways?
It seems so cliché to say that you don’t really realize what you had until it’s gone but it’s true. It’s absolutely true and I want to remind you of just how much you have. I want to motivate you to take advantage of the world around you. It’s an absolutely beautiful world that we live in and there is so much out there for you to do. As the weather gets warmer there’ll be more and more for you to do. But even today if I was not injured I would be out there living it up. God how I miss listening to music and driving my car. In the winter I missed snow skiing and sledding and sitting in a sled with a ski handle tied to my brothers car and flying around the parking lot. I could sit here and list 1,000 things that I miss from every season but I’m not going to do that. Life was great but if I can go back now it would be even better because I would realize just how much I really enjoyed it.
Go out there! Go out there and do something! Try what you think you’d like and pursue what you know you love. I know what it’s like to truly love something. I obviously loved to water ski. I worked my ass off to accomplish everything I did on the water and the reward was truly amazing. I’m reminded every day of my devotion to the sport because of the national championship ring that I wear around my neck every day. It also reminds me that now it is time to find something that I love just as much. Maybe I never will find that one thing that I love just as much as waterskiing but I will keep searching. I think what that one thing is or will be is helping people through my writing and through my speaking. I’ve been through a hell of a lot in 25 years. More than most people experience in their entire lives.
It absolutely kills me to see somebody depressed or stressing out over the tiniest things. I am sometimes tempted to go up to this person and just tell them my story. I want to tell them that there are 2 ways to live your life. You can either live in self-pity and constantly worry about your problems and focus on all of the negative parts of your life. Or you can choose to live a life of happiness where you accept what God has given you and you take those God-given gifts and maximize them to your full potential. You need to forget about your flaws because some things cannot be changed. As for me I cannot sit there and wish that I could walk again all day long because it may never happen. My one friend told me that if you could walk it would be silly to sit there and wish all day that you could fly. I can not be bitter about my situation because it only makes things worse. I can’t be pissed off all the time because I only have one good hand. Rather I joke about it and say that I’m going to get a lobster claw tattooed on my fingers. I screwed up and because of that I am paying a heavy price. But the bottom line is is that I’m still alive. I could sit here and be bitter about all that I am missing out on but if I was dead I would miss out on it all. I could not imagine leaving my family and friends so soon. I could not imagine what this would do to my mother or the rest of my family.
If you’re reading this you’re still alive and that means you are here to live. To start living a fuller life and a happier life. To try new things and to not stress out when things do not work out. Everything happens for a reason and I believe that and I also believe that bad things happen for a reason. So if you had a bad day just shake it off and remember that things can always get better. Your life is going to play out how you live it. We are not puppets and we decide our every move. I challenge you to go out and try something new today. To visit an old friend or say hi to someone and spark up a conversation and make a new one. To get in your car and just go for a drive to somewhere you’ve never been. Just experience something new. If you can’t think of anything to do give me a call and I’ll tell you you’re crazy. Because if you gave me my legs back today you have no idea how crazy this day would be.