Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The undying spirit

My friend Hans Zimmer had a serious motorcycle accident and lost the use of his left hand.

"Fortunately I'm right handed," he told me as he adroitly served me a cup of tea. "It's amazing what I can do with just one hand."

Despite the loss of his fingers, he learned to fly an airplane in less than a year. But one day, while flying over a mountainous region, his plane had engine problems and crashed. He survived, but was paralyzed from head to foot.

I visited him in the hospital. He smiled at me. "Nothing that happens is really of any importance," he said. "What matters is what I decide to do now!"

I was dumbfounded. I thought my friend was just pretending, and that as soon as I left he would start crying and regretting his situation. That might have been what he did on that day, but he wasn't finished yet. Life still had some fine surprises in store for him.

He met the woman of his life during a conference for handicapped people. He invented a system of digital writing that responded to voice commands. And he sold millions of copies of a book that he wrote about developing the new system. On the back cover he wrote this short note:

"Before becoming paralyzed, I could do a million different things. Now I can only do 990,000. But what sensible person would worry about the 10,000 things he can no longer do, while there are 990,000 things left?!"

I salute the never-say-die spirit of such angels of inspiration.

If you have been paralyzed by your loved ones, or job, or money, or anything else in this life, always remember there is still so much more to do than worry about what you cannot do because of this misfortune. Do what you still can, and do it the best.