Monday, June 24, 2013

A Change in Perspective


Last week there was an article in the Democrat & Chronicle, our local newspaper, about a young man named Richard Masters who was in a terrible accident when he was 5 years old - A dump truck blew through a stop sign and hit the car he was riding in. Richard was left a quadriplegic.

For the last 19 years, Richard has had no motion from the neck down. Did he let such a terrible thing get him down or limit him in trying to do whatever he wanted?  No. He even stated in the article, "...I try not to be a crabby person."  Given what happened to him, he would have every right to be filled with anger. Instead he focuses on what gives him joy.

He paints. He started painting almost right after the accident as a form of physical therapy to keep his neck muscles strong. He has even made a name for himself due to his paintings. How does he manage to paint if he's paralyzed from the neck down, you ask?  He grips the paintbrush by clamping his teeth on the end of the brush and moving his head side to side. His aunt mixes his paints and holds his canvases for him while he's working.

Richard paints floral prints, still lifes, and portraits. It's his portraits that are the most impressive. Just by moving his head with the brush between his teeth, he's able to portray movement in hair, expressive facial expressions, and intricate background patterns.

Can you imagine only being able to move your head and nothing else? I have to admit I can't. After reading this article, I immediately felt that I was taking my health and the life I have for granted.  I'm trying to take a page out of Richard's book and trying not to be a crabby person who complains about minor annoyances anymore.

Someone once said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "If you want something bad enough, you'll make it happen. If you don't, you'll make excuses." Richard had every reason in the world to make excuses not to paint, yet he didn't.  I kept the article about Richard and framed it. It sits on the credenza where I see it every day. I hope it will remind me that the only real limitations we have in trying to achieve our dreams are the ones we put on ourselves.

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