After nine months hospital and rehabilitation treatment in 1979 I returned home and all the memories about previous months faded away. I felt that I was totally alone with my handicap.
Medicine had done what it could to help me onto my feet. Thereafter I myself had to find a way to continue with my life.
The left side of my body was still paralysed and I couldn’t speak. I felt as if someone had pulled the rug from under my feet before my life had actually begun. What could I possibly expect from life any more?
When I thought about myself as an individual it seemed to be indifferent, whether I bound a rope around my neck like my mother had done ten years earlier or if I made my last trip to the seashore just stone’s throw away from home.
Despite of my thoughts I felt that as an individual I was unique:
no one had exactly my experiences and other people didn’t combine things in exactly the same way. No one senses the world in exactly the same way than I do. It seemed that my individuality was meaningful only in relation to the community I was living in.
I thought that despite of their unhappiness, my experiences should serve me and be building materials for my life that I could share with others also.
I returned in my mind to that energy source, from which the development of our world obviously started. Through millions of years, through millennia and through centuries the world developed by trial and error. It went through phases of chaos and harmony and got time and time again into chaos. But the good spirit, power of life, which sustained the continuation of the development survived.
Did the chaos I had to go through differ from the chaos of world’s natural development? Wasn’t I rather a part of the continuing development?
Some sort of “error” had turned the direction of my life and my task was to find a way to redress the balance. I should not focus on the hindrances caused by my physical handicap, but I had to concentrate on things I was good at and which improved the balance.
A child develops by his own enthusiasm, but also because the environment constantly sets new challenges for him. I had to find the challenges that would bring my life forward. I believed that whatever I needed already existed in the particular situation. I only had to keep my eyes open and bravely seize the opportunities that were given to me.
Principally I had as good a chance as anyone else to have success in life. The secret of successful people is that they have found their own strengths. Only one strength can lead to success. Therefore, the prerequisite for my success was that I found my strengths.
I was aware that I could be rejected only because of prejudices of people, no matter how good I did. It was a fact that I simply had to cope with. I thought that the only thing I could help my position was that I was fair to other people. Only by being fair to other people I could even theoretically expect them to be fair to myself.
If someone for some reason rejected me I should not waste my energy trying to convince anyone with words. If I could not convince people with my actions I simply wasn’t convincing enough. I should not even try to convince people by disputing things. I believed that I got enough possibilities to take action and fulfil myself.
As I got handicapped I was in a situation that required complete change in my mind. It had been my honour to be well-behaving and do everything people expected me to do without ifs and buts. Or rather:
I had done everything that I imagined people to expect from me. I had lived more in some kind of imaginary world and illusion than in reality of this world.
I had made a point on avoiding disputes and conflicts, but was their avoidance a value one should strive for?
Don’t it demand more courage and fortitude from a person to form opinions independently and to defend and stand by them also when one is put under pressure?
Isn’t the ability to think independently the foundation of my individuality?
When I was unable to speak and severely handicapped no one else but me seemed to have expectations for my future. My future lied completely in my own hands so to speak. My situation differed thoroughly from the situation of the people I knew, so that I could not search models from my surroundings any more. I knew that if I wanted to see any progress at all I had to focus on my needs and start using my own brain.
Before I got the stroke I had been attending school for 14 years, but I hardly understood anything about life forces. Not to mention that at school I would have got some knowledge to get prepared for situations like the one I was confronting as I got handicapped.
When I think about my situation now after 30 years, I feel that at that time I had all I needed to face my new challenges:
the thoughts I have written above were exactly the same I had in 1979 after I returned home from rehabilitation centre. Regardless of the chaos in my mind I was absolutely capable of making crucial decisions concerning my life, which led to my success. And it required only three things: focusing on my needs, keeping eyes open and trusting my own judgement.
Youtube Video:Burkard’s Wake-Up Call