Paralyzed – Seth Beaudry
Being in a wheelchair 95% of the time has given me a different perspective literally, mentally and spiritually. Literally, I’m 3 feet shorter now, so I always see everything from the height of a 7-year-old. It’s pretty odd rolling around the corner at a convenience store and locking eyes with a child. Aside from facing the obvious obstacles of not being able to reach high shelves; talking with my friends can be troublesome at times. For example, in a large group setting, I might be overlooked because everyone is talking and conversing, and I’m at everyone’s waistline. And that is a horrible feeling. Nobody wants to feel excluded. In other ways though, It’s like seeing the world in a whole new way, that everyone can’t see, looking from a different angle.
Gratitude has been the biggest contributing factor since my accident. It has grounded me in times of hardship and pain. My heart has softened and I now carry the mindset of “who am I to complain?” When I can move my fingers, my arms, I CAN BLINK. Who am I to complain? When I met an eighteen year old who jumped into a pool, head first, snapped his cervical bones, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Now a quadriplegic, suffering irreparable brain damage. On numerous occasions, I’ve had friends, and family members tell me that they have sore feet and legs, from walking all day, until I remind them at least they can walk. Wait you can pee?!? WOW must be nice…I can’t Stand it when… ( pun ) but seriously, HOW MANY TIMES do I have to remind everyone how much they matter? You are breathing OXYGEN. You are alive right now, breathing in air. Embrace that today. Please just be grateful for what you have.
It’s about perspective. You can see your glass half empty but I’m just lucky to have a glass.
At first it was all brand new to me. After my car accident I was just lucky to be alive. Sitting in ICU with loved ones and family members all around, I never felt so much love. And I wish everyone felt that way. I wish you didn’t need to have almost died from a car crash for hundreds, even thousands of people to text you saying, “I am just glad you are okay.” What would it look like if we all could just say that to one another on a regular basis? Because the love I felt laying on my hospital bed, shouldn’t remain for those who are going through horric, traumatic things. It should be tailored for everyone.
Prior to my accident, I thought I had to act a certain way to get a certain result. But laying on that hospital bed, wearing a drawstring-gown, I didn’t have to put up a front. Everyone was just glad I was alive. That I was still me. Still Seth. And I carried that love// rode that wave of positivity, throughout my rehabilitation. Nonetheless, I’ve realized that my optimistic perspective has been a rare commodity for my situation. I am proud that I didn’t follow the cliché of ‘something bad had happened, I got sad, then I rose to the top story.’
Instead- It was on my 19th birthday, on Peninsula Dr. in Traverse City, Michigan. I hit two trees. Going 110MPH, not wearing a seat belt; and the airbags didn’t go off. I woke up in the car, my head resting on the passenger seat, with the car suspended in the air, in between the two trees; and other than breaking my 11th and 12th vertebrae –leaving me with a spinal cord injury, I didn’t have a scratch on me. I got angels. The chances of me being able to cognitively articulate, let alone type this and contextualize this for you is immaculate. Plus, I have an incomplete injury, which is HUGE — meaning there is a potential I could walk again one day. The body achieves what the mind believes.
I now use my story along with the perspective I’ve gained to inspire others through my clothing brand, ARêTe, which in Greek, means to reach out one’s full potential; seek out ultimate fulfillment in life. My clothing brand’s mission statement is Uniting Humanity One Thread At A Time. I believe society is prone to exclusivity. And we as humans seem to always put some on a pedestal while pushing the rest aside. That is why through my career with public speaking, my brand, and media/ advertisement opportunities, I will be able to empower people and let everyone know that each human is unique. Aside from that, just promoting positivity from sitting in a wheelchair has gone a long way for me thus far. So I’m just gonna continue to let my light shine through.
(Visit Sean’s clothing brand AréTe here.)
I hope to help others fly. Cause I know now what it feels like to try to fly with broken wings.
I don’t define myself as paralyzed. It has a bad connotation to it. Even the word dis·a·bled /ˌdisˈāb(ə)ld/ adjective 1. (of a person) having a physical or mental condition that limits movements, senses, or activities. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, addiction, the need for approval, laziness, lust, hate, arrogance/ ignorance, we all are “disabled” in a sense. That is why I prefer to use the term disabled loosely. I wish we all could treat one another, like we were in a wheelchair. Because you never know what someone is going through. Someone might be externally fine but be having suicidal tendencies.
Externally, You can see my disability, and that’s why I will be treated with more acts of kindness and compassion. Sometimes the total opposite. Now it should go without saying, you don’t see the full picture of anyone— “it’s just the tip of the iceberg.” Many people see that I am in a wheelchair, not knowing at that moment I’m sitting with 100 billion nerve receptors going off at that very second, people not understanding that every morning it takes me 5-10 minutes to put my pants on; or how difficult it is to put my socks on. Taking 5 tries at putting my shoes on cause my middle toe keeps bunching up in the shoe. We all struggle with different things. Most of the time, you might never imagine what someone is going through. Someone might be walking down the street and look just fine, but internally, be paralyzed with insecurities, anxiety, depression, guilt, grief etc. If we all treated everyone, like we just survived a car accident and was just glad and grateful that we were alive, we could progress humanity and advance towards a better quality of life.
– Seth D. Beaudry