Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bliss of a Shoelace

When I think about the first year I attended school after my illness my brain comes up with fond memories that bring a smile to my face. I remember that I was pretty much the most popular kid in my class. Teachers were pretty awesome with acts of compassion, helping me with any troubles that I might encounter; and students followed with similar gestures.
A boy named Roger and a cute little girl named Jennifer stand out amongst the many. He challenged me, but in the good way, to do my best; to pat me on the back and work with me to understand. She became my shadow and constantly reassured me with a smile. I can picture him getting me to sit up front, back straight, head held high. I recall her tying my shoelaces for me, constantly asking if I was alright and what else she could do for me.

Oh how simple life was.

Moving along throughout my school years things did tend to become more difficult and hard to understand. I lost my Roger's and Jennifer's as I became just another face in the crowd, my disability hidden to those on the outside, but in many ways, also from me. I would shyly sit in the back (on occasion slouched down) as I was sometimes afraid of being noticed, and no one was tying my shoelaces anymore. Regardless though, I enjoyed life and I carry some great memories of people I met and things I did or encountered.

I now know and understand my disability and what I went through a lot more; though I am sure there is more that I could learn. But do I want to? What difference does it make? When people say "Mark, everyone gets depressed" I now feel more of a sting from being compared to everyone else when I know not everyone else lives with a brain injury and endures the ramifications from it; but before, when I didn't know, I just rolled with it. Should I be happy now that I know why it is I have certain fears or challenges? And has my knowledge just made things worse? Because now I wonder if I am blaming my disability, my brain injury, on too many things.

So the question becomes, is ignorance (innocense) really bliss?

I recall a character by the name of Cypher from the movie The Matrix. A scene where he is sitting in the matrix, wearing nice clothing, sipping at wine, eating a steak, knowing that these things are not real. A harp is played in the background as he is about to betray the "good guys" to the Agent out to get and destroy them. "Ignorance is bliss" Cypher drools out with a smirk on his face.

Then I remember that Cypher never made it out of the movie.

It is a movie and it is a bit of a far fetched example, but it does kind of ring true. Ignorance may be bliss in the beginning, but it is knowledge that brings to us true beauty and peace. The struggle in life may still be there, (it most likely always will be to a certain degree) and the bumps may have increased and become rockier the more I've learned, but I have acquired a lot that I consider well worth it.

Things like self awareness and the ability to help others with what I know. People I've met from my journey of education and growth. The capability to contribute to society in ways I could not dream before. The fact that even though they may not personally be in my life, by my side, I can see that the world is full of Roger's and Jennifer's; and that is alright with me. And If I was truly blaming my brain injury on things, I would not be doing those things; saying that I wasn't capable and giving up.

I can tie my own shoelace now and be happy with the knowledge I carry.

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