Thursday, June 30, 2005

I'm Sorry

I just heard a Fresh Air interview, downloaded from Audible.com, of Mark Zupan, one of the best Quadriplegic Rugby players in the world, about the new movie Murderball.




I have not seen this movie but I will. Mark Zupan is very articulate and was a great interview subject. I learned a couple of things today:

a) Anyone who has a broken neck from C1-C7 is considered a quadriplegic; anyone with a broken neck from T1 and lower is considered a paraplegic.

b) When I think of quadriplegia, I think of Christopher Reeve. The truth is that a quadriplegic has impairment in all four limbs but not necessarily loss of all function in the limbs. Zupan has quite strong arms but has serious impairment in his hands.

c) Quadriplegics generally maintain the ability to get an erection. Paraplegics often have difficulties in this area. Given the choice between full use of one's hands and full use of one's penis, most quads consider themselves "luckier." There might be a certain level of rivalry between quadriplegics and paraplegics. I wonder if people who are totally blind feel superior to people who are legally blind but have some remaining vision. "Ah, but you're not completely blind. I win that paper-scissors-rock game of Who Has The Greatest Disability!"

But this little blog entry isn't about the movie, which I've already mentioned having never seen. Nor is it about quadriplegia (which looks spelled wrong; I had to check as I started writing this). Nor is it about the amazing capacity for humans to overcome bad fortune and enormous odds to become both successful in the workforce (Zupan is a civil engineer) and in the sporting world.

This is about apologies.

Mark Zupan and his teammates from his college soccer team went out drinking one night after a game. Zupan drank way too much and climbed into the back of his friend's pickup truck to sleep it off. His friend, Chris, having had way too much to drink himself, drove off in the truck not knowing Zupan slept in the bed. On his way home Chris lost control of the truck and the truck spun, nearly causing him to have an accident. A police officer saw the truck spin and arrested Chris for drunk driving. What neither Chris nor the police officer knew was that Zupan had been ejected from the bed of the truck, flew over a wall, and landed in a canal where he lay for fourteen hours with a broken neck.

Mark Zupan became a quadriplegic. Chris became the one who put Mark in the wheelchair forever.

Here's the rub: who has the harder life? My understanding is that the movie addresses this issue but it got me thinking.

Chris did something stupid (drive drunk) and it got his friend seriously hurt. Chris had no idea he was putting his friend at risk but the fact remains: no drunk driving = no drunk driving misadventure.

Mark said in the interview that he never expected an apology from Chris. Mark seems more of a "shit happens" kind of guy. Chris didn't know about Mark being in the truck, so Mark expects no apology from him.

The problem is that Chris probably needs Mark to forgive him. I'm sure Mark saying the words wasn't enough and perhaps nothing would be enough. Chris probably needs to forgive himself; but if he does then what does that say about his character? I put my friend in a wheelchair and I've forgiven myself. Good for me, but Mark is still in a wheelchair.

And I take the thought out of the story of Mark and Chris. Have you ever hurt someone? Of course. Have you ever asked for forgiveness? Hopefully. Were you forgiven? Does it matter?

Does it matter?

By asking for forgiveness, one gives the reins of one's guilt to the person who was wronged. The wronged person can withhold forgiveness and create more guilt. The wronged person can grant the forgiveness but keep a measure of superiority about it. The wronged person can grant full forgiveness and both parties can move on. Or can they?

Huge problem or minor faux pas, the wrong was still committed. Neither will likely forget it. In my experience one only forgives themselves after the passage of time. The size of the wrong will determine how much time it takes.

If I put my friend in a wheelchair could I ever completely forgive myself? Probably not. I might dedicate my life to helping that person but it wouldn't be enough. I might do what I could for a little while then completely disappear so I wouldn't be constantly reminded of it, but it would still be part of me.

I screwed this up. I caused this hurt.

There's nothing I can do to take it back; that's not how life works. The only thing I can do is keep trying to not screw up in the future.

That's all any of us can do.

I'll make you a deal: You keep trying to do the right thing and so will I. When you stumble I will lend you a hand. If I trip you, accidentally or on purpose, I will lend a hand. If I do not see that you have fallen, raise your hand and ask me to lend mine.

That way we can all get through this life thing.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

My most profound and pervasive fear is that some day I will round a corner in my vehicle, and some child or dog will dart out into the road, I'll hit them and kill them.

And although that wouldn't be my fault, I would have to live with the fact that my actions, although unintentional, resulted in the cessation of another's life.

People would say " it wasn't your fault", but I seriously doubt that statement would quell the guilt and horror experienced.

One of life's fun little lessons.

J-bro

Anonymous said...

I'm there with ya Brother (E), if we were all to do this would not this place that we are spending this bit time be a better place? Petra sang a song, "What if I stumble" - the premis is that it is known that we will do ills in our life, Forgiveness is a needed aspect, of both each other and of self, as well as spirutal. I will not get all preachy here, however, we do need to reach out to each other and lend a hand, Consider me in on your Deal / Challange.
- TVG

jen said...

that story reminds me of the leif garrett "behind the music" episode. leif left HIS best friend in a wheelchair as the result of a drunk driving incident.

so "behind the music" tracks the dude down and he and leif have the most emotional reunion.

at the time, leif's attorneys advised him not to talk to the friend. they hadn't spoken in 15 years or so.

it was such a gut-wrenching moment. the guy wanted to hear an apology and leif clearly wanted to give one.

it seems that at that time, both of their lives turned again. they both got what they needed.

i've been a grudge-holder until recently. i recently came to understand that my life is too short and my relationships too few and precious to let real or imagined slights go punished forever.

of course, no one's ever wronged me THAT hugely. but still, it was a big step for me. and i'm glad i took it. forgiving others is liberating. so is accepting forgiveness.

Blah Blah Blah said...

One of the reasons I don't drink is because when I have, I never know when I've had too much and never know when I am too impaired to do things. I could easily be the person who lays down in the back of the truck or the person who drives drunk. I think that by living my life in a responsible way lessens the odds that these things will happen. I think that is your point of trying to be the best you can be, do the best you can do. I try to do that but it's nice to read someone's profound thoughts on the subject. Great post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Everyone has days when they are down, worn out, speech anxiety and just not feeling all that happy.

That's OK, you need to have days like this, otherwise how would you know when you are happy. You need to have something to contrast your happiness with. What is black without white?

Even though you know that sadness (speech anxiety) is a part of life, let's try to make it a small part of life.

With that said, here are a few tips to help you feel better when you are feeling down in the dumps. They are easy to do, easy to practice every day and they work!

1. Stand up straight, sit up straight. When your body is in alignment your energy can flow and when your energy is flowing freely, you can flow.

2. Smile! Yes, just smile. Easy to do and effective.

3. Repeat positive affirmations. Things like "I feel good", "Positive energy flows through my body", "I see the good in all".

4. Listen to some music that you like. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just something you enjoy. Certain types of music work better than others, but experiment and see what works for you. Studies have shown that Classical music and new age music work best.

5. Take some time out for yourself, relax and read a book, do something for yourself.

6. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent habit to develop. It will serve you in all that you do. If you are one who has a hard time sitting still, then try some special meditation CDs that coax your brain into the meditative state. Just search for "Meditation music" on Google or Yahoo and explore.

Our outside work is simply a reflection of our inside world. Remember there is no reality just your perception of it. Use this truth to your advantage. Whenever you are sad, realize that it is all in your mind and you do have the power to change your perception.

These tips will lift you up when you are down, but don't just use them when you are sad or speech anxiety . Try and practice them everyday, make them a habit. You will be surprised at how these simple exercises will keep the rainy days away.

On a final note, if you are in a deep depression that you can't seem to shake, please go see a doctor. This is your life and don't take any chances. speech anxiety

Anonymous said...

Everyone has days when they are down, worn out, celexa anxiety and just not feeling all that happy.

That's OK, you need to have days like this, otherwise how would you know when you are happy. You need to have something to contrast your happiness with. What is black without white?

Even though you know that sadness (celexa anxiety) is a part of life, let's try to make it a small part of life.

With that said, here are a few tips to help you feel better when you are feeling down in the dumps. They are easy to do, easy to practice every day and they work!

1. Stand up straight, sit up straight. When your body is in alignment your energy can flow and when your energy is flowing freely, you can flow.

2. Smile! Yes, just smile. Easy to do and effective.

3. Repeat positive affirmations. Things like "I feel good", "Positive energy flows through my body", "I see the good in all".

4. Listen to some music that you like. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just something you enjoy. Certain types of music work better than others, but experiment and see what works for you. Studies have shown that Classical music and new age music work best.

5. Take some time out for yourself, relax and read a book, do something for yourself.

6. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent habit to develop. It will serve you in all that you do. If you are one who has a hard time sitting still, then try some special meditation CDs that coax your brain into the meditative state. Just search for "Meditation music" on Google or Yahoo and explore.

Our outside work is simply a reflection of our inside world. Remember there is no reality just your perception of it. Use this truth to your advantage. Whenever you are sad, realize that it is all in your mind and you do have the power to change your perception.

These tips will lift you up when you are down, but don't just use them when you are sad or celexa anxiety . Try and practice them everyday, make them a habit. You will be surprised at how these simple exercises will keep the rainy days away.

On a final note, if you are in a deep depression that you can't seem to shake, please go see a doctor. This is your life and don't take any chances. celexa anxiety

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