“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.” – Wesley (aka the Great Pirate Roberts) in the film “The Princess Bride”
Life with brain injury is often compared to a “long hard road.” It is. It’s got extreme ups and downs plus all kinds of rocks and other challenges. The question is, what do we do about it?
The road, after all, is the road. It’s ours to travel. How do we travel it with the greatest amount of joy and the least amount of pain? Attitude and faith.
One of the challenging and fundamental things I had to learn when going barefoot (either running or walking) was to relax. The pain tender feet experience on rocky roads is significant. It causes the whole body, foot included, to tense up. This ironically only makes things worse.
You see, our feet are designed to mould to whatever we step on. Yes, they need to thicken (but not callus), but they remain soft and flexible, shaping themselves, when relaxed, to whatever the are places upon. This allows me to walk on roads and over rocks that would be too painful otherwise.
Another fundamental principle of barefooting is to place the foot onto the ground without friction. This means placing the foot softly straight up and down, no matter the speed.
All those rocks (challenges, burdens, things we can’t do, losses) we experience in TBI life are much the same. Our reflex is to tense up, fight back, get angry, try and take control. That only makes things worse. We end up bruised and bleeding because of our own self inflicted beating
Instead, allow faith to help melt your attitude. Focus on the gifts, rather than dwelling on the pain.
Here’s how I do it (sometimes every five minutes!). Whenever I feel burdened, I think of three gifts in my life at that very moment. Sometimes it’s hard. I can often get to one or two fairly easily, but three can be a real stumper. When I finally get that third, somehow I see another hundred or more gifts all present in that same moment. Then I pray a simple prayer of thanksgiving to God. Somehow it relaxes my entire countenance, and I start gliding over the rocks without really even paying attention to them.
Whether you’re a caregiver or survivor, the burdens of life with TBI are ever present. Learning to move through life with as little friction as possible makes life that much more enjoyable. That’s not to say there won’t be rough people or situations, but how we move when we encounter them makes a huge difference. I still run over rough decomposed granite, which can feel like running on the tips of three knives, but by both relaxing and lifting my foot straight up and placing it straight down, I minimize the impact on me and on the rock.