I was having an online chat with a friend of mine and she was wondering how I managed to stay so positive with my limited ability to leave my home. She could remember how hard it had been for her when she was confined to her home for 8 weeks post hip surgery. It was one of those questions that I knew the answer to, but at the same time made me reflect on the last 3 years since RGRTA eliminated the bus route servicing our area and virtually eliminating the paratransit services (aka Liftline) to our neighborhood.
I remember the day I got the news. At that time, it seemed like the worst possible thing that could have happened to me and to us as a couple. It changed the way I work, the ability to go places, see people, socialize, even seek alternate employment if I wanted to. It changed my ability to worship somewhere if I wanted to or even go out on dates with my wife. One day, I had services and the next day I did not.
I wish I could say that I just smiled and acted as if this was no big deal, however, I had to go through my time of processing all the fears that I really did need to worry about like whether I was going to be able to keep my job, keep the insurance we needed so desperately as Zoe had just been diagnosed with cancer, keep our home, etc. I always say wait to worry, but at this point it was time to worry. However, I think it was the worries that propelled me into action. It began with talking to my program chair and negotiating to teach the rest of my classes from that point forward as online courses. This resolved a need of hers and mine. It also meant we kept our insurance and I no longer had to worry about Zoe or I not having insurance. That was a huge relief.
With the love of friends, families, and local companies, things began to fall into place and we learned new ways of being in the world. We started having what my friend Jerry calls Newfoundland parties. There are very few nights during the week that something is not happening here. Sometimes it is for Inspiritual, sometimes they are just friends coming over for dinner. Liftline may have made it a challenge for me to go into the world, but they could not keep me from bringing the world into my home.
As I tell my clients all the time, you may not choose the event, but you can choose how you respond to the event. I could have chosen to see this as a jail sentence; however, I chose to see this as a chance to build a space of love, a space of spiritual evolution and transformation. With my wife, we have brought the outside in. We have made this a sacred space where people feel so comfortable they often times do not have to leave.
Kelly Clarkson says in her song Stronger, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. It does. When you choose to move through your fears, you become stronger. When things happen to you that challenge you to the core of your being, you can choose to allow them to break you or move you forward to a space beyond that which you could envision for yourself.
Maybe that is why I like the closing section of Kelly Clarkson’s song:
Thanks to you I got a new thing started
Thanks to you I'm not the broken-hearted
Thanks to you I'm finally thinking 'bout me
You know in the end, the day you left is just my beginning
In the end
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone
What doesn't kill you makes you a fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Thanks to the decision by RGRTA, I got a new thing started in my life. I am not broken hearted. I began thinking more about my dream and following it. The day they told me my services were over was really the day of my new beginning. So while I still have some moments when I miss the way things were this whole experience has made me stronger. It has made me a fighter. It has helped me find an internal strength I am not sure I was in touch with before. Each day, I am getting stronger, walking more fully in unconditional love and peace for the world and myself. Each day, I focus on sharing the love of the Infinite with all that I know and meet. Knowing I am making a difference in the world is what keeps me going. How many people are given the chance to spend their whole lives helping others to experience the love of the Universal Spirit in their lives? Each day I am reminded of how blessed I am and how much stronger I am getting. In a spiritual and personal respect, my footsteps are getting lighter and I will continue to fight against systemic violence and inhumanity in this world. With every breath I take, I am now standing taller and living more fully in the purpose for which I was created. Today, and every day, is about getting stronger.