The other night, I watched The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - a film based on a memoir written by a man suffering from Locked-in syndrome. Locked-in syndrome is a condition in which a patient has full awareness but cannot move due to complete paralysis of all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes.
At the age of 43, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of fashion magazine Elle, had a massive stroke. He woke up 20 days later to discover that he was almost completely paralysed. The determined French journalist wrote his memoir by memorising what he wanted to say then dictating the text to a transcriber by blinking his one functioning eyelid (a system known as partner assisted scanning). It took him 10 months (at an average of four hours a day). He died two days after its publication.
I don’t know whether I felt depressed or inspired after watching the movie. This man had everything taken from him – his career, his partner (who abandoned him after the stroke), his health, his speech, and his independence. Understandably, he expressed his desire to die. But then he realised that, apart from his left eye, two other things were not paralysed – his memory and his imagination. He went on to write a bestseller and set up a Locked-in syndrome association. He had lost so much but the spirit within him was still able to create something extraordinary. And then he passed away.
Our mortality is something we are born with. Sometimes, I think we ignore the fact that this lifetime will not last forever. We get so caught up in routine and obligation that we are often oblivious to the beauty and wonder of the world around us. We become disheartened and apathetic, or frustrated and angry, so gratitude and appreciation seem irrelevant.
Life is short. So, we should do the things that make us feel thankful to be alive. Last week, I took my mother to see the New York Spirit of Gospel. The vocalists astounded us with their talent. They encouraged us to shake off our self-consciousness, get up off our seats and dance, clap and sing along. The performance was all the better because we joined in.
We spend so much time passively watching the world do its thing. But it’s only when we actively participate that we come alive. So, get out there and really live. Life is a gift if that’s how you choose to see it.
The world is full of miracles and adventure, blessings and delight. And there are so many ways to acknowledge this. Money or mobility don’t have to be an issue. You can travel to foreign lands or visit spectacular spots within your own country. You could walk through whispering forests and across the backs of ancient mountains. Or simply allow the deep tones of a cello to awaken your senses.
Embrace life and each other. Laugh long and hard and often. Learn how to surf or bake or speak Spanish. Tell someone you love them. Admit to your fears and share your passions. Swim in lakes and oceans. Feel the earth’s water on your naked skin. Dance. Cry. Sing. Love. Live.
Images: http://favim.com/image/31398/; http://xaxor.com/photography/25467-appreciating-life-photography.html
Posted in Modern Society, Personal development, Spirituality
Tagged appreciation, art, book, coma, death, depression, elle, experience, expression, film, gratitude, jean-dominique bauby, laughter, life, living, locked-in syndrome, love, magazine, memoir, mortality, movie, music, new york spirit of gospel, paralysis, participation, passion, song, soul, spirit, suicidal, the diving bell and the butterfly, travel
Every so often, I have a flash of what life would be like without one of my senses. And so I give thanks for my five functioning faculties.
I am grateful for my sense of hearing because of the following…
The soprano song of a violin. The passionate pounding of a piano. A talented vocalist. The morning call of a Collared Dove. A baby’s laughter. Howling wind. Hammering rain. Thundering waves.
I am blessed with the sense of sight because I get to see…
Fairy lights. Ballet. A handsome man in a tight T-shirt. The explosion of colour that a sunset brings. A night sky crowded with stars. The ocean. The dimple of a smile. Flowers and foreign lands.
My sense of smell allows me to enjoy…
Coffee, cut grass, and Christmas trees. Sunscreen and spices and incense. Baby smells of Sudocrem and innocence. The whiff of a cooking dinner when I come home after a long day.
My sense of taste gives me the pleasure of…
Kisses. A mug of tea made by somebody else. A glass of juice after a hard night’s drinking. Gyros and Greek salads. Chips from a brown paper bag. A home-cooked meal following a day in the mountains. Picnics.
Without my sense of touch, I would be unable to appreciate…
A tight embrace. The warmth of an open fire. Sun on skin. A welcome breeze. Skinny dipping. A lover on my neck.
Images: http://patriciaquintessence.blogspot.com/2011/06/oceans-day-today.html; http://weheartit.com/entry/18825370; http://favim.com/image/152231/
Posted in Random
Tagged baby, ballet, beauty, christmas, eurasian collared dove, gratitude, gyros, happiness, hearing, kiss, loved one, lover, music, nature, ocean, perfume, piano, pleasure, seaside, senses, sight, smell, song, sound, sudocrem, sunshine, touch, violin, weather
Creativity brings colour and beauty to our lives. Be it a painting, a photograph or a piece of writing… But music is a worldwide currency, a universal language. It helps us feel less alone in our grief and confusion. It can seem like the lyrics have been wrenched straight from our swirling thoughts and splintering hearts.
Music adds force and meaning to drama and advertising. A simple song can bring a person to tears. Music unites people and collects them on the dance floor. It gives them license to sing into their hair brushes and whoop from their car windows.
“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Berthold Auerbach
Music encourages sharing. When we come across a new favourite song, we rush to post a link on Facebook and burn copies for our best friends. Music is especially delightful when it comes with a really cool video and a voice as satisfying as an impossible-to-reach back-scratch…
In the thought-provoking blog, 365 Days of Gratitude, there’s a section called Resonating Sounds, where the writer uploads some of her favourite tracks. Great idea! And it’s how I came across this fantastic cover of Robyn’s Be Mine…
This may be insensitive of me but when I was sent the following viral YouTube clip, the accompanying song made as much of an impact on me as its tear-jerking message about the unfortunately rampant issue of bullying…
When someone you know pursues their passion and you can watch them make a name for themselves, it’s exciting and encouraging. Carosel’s Michelle Phelan is what sunbeams and angel wings would sound like if they sang…
“Discovering” a new artist is particularly pleasing. Check out upcoming Irish talent, Laura Hughes, here.
Music is powerful. It lifts you up when you’re down, invigorates you before a night out, and motivates you on a run. It can soothe the rawest of emotions, remind you of a lover, and envelope you in a childhood summer. Music connects us and contents us and inspires us…
"A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence." Leopold Stokowski
Share your much-loved melodies too!
Posted in Random
Tagged 365 days of gratitude, be mine, beauty, berthold auerbach, blog, breathe me, carosel, childhood, cover, creativity, depression, ellie goulding, erik hassle, exercise, facebook, inspiration, internet, jonah, lana del rey, laura hughes, leopold stokowski, loneliness, lover, lyrics, michelle phelan, music, music videos, passion, pieces, poetry, robyn, sharing, sia, song, summer, talent, tears, unity, video games, vocalist, whats goin on, words, writing, youtube