Inspiring Each Other To Greater Heights

I have my bad days. This blog has allowed me to chronicle them. I have my good days. Those are the ones I would like to remember fondly. The most beautiful thing about all these is that I have made more friends online through my blog than in real life. This is what I told Rebecca MacKinnon when she asked me how blogging has impacted my life at the Global Voices IRC before the interview with Mack Zulkifli and Jeff Ooi.

That is not all. This blog has helped me rekindle friendships with a few of my ex-classmates and ex-schoolmates who found me through my blog. We have not met in more than twenty years. Getting an email from a friend from the past is like being able to relive part of that time when we were studying together. How wonderful can that be?

Rebecca asked about my blog readership. I truly do not know and picked out a figure from thin air and told her in jest that it is around twenty. As she rightly added, that is beside the point. I blog not for any reason other than to keep an account of the significant moments of my life. “I blog for myself,” I told her, “writing is an escape for me.” That reminded me of what Fazri said: “I write to express, not to impress.” Very wise words from a young man.

Nevertheless, it is heartening to know that people who read my blog have found meaning in my writings. Dr. Cheah has something nice to say in Spinal Cord Injuries : The Life After, an entry he published in May last year. Mack too has put in an entry titled Stubborness, Good or Bad. This was posted in his previous blog called Branding Conversations. I have not thanked them both properly for their kind words and am doing it here.

Likewise, I scour blogs looking for inspirational stories of people who have triumphed over great difficulties and come out stronger. These are truly exceptional humans who never gave up in the face of adversities. I, too, derive strength from these people. It is like climbing a mountain together. We continually push each other to go higher. It is this teamwork that will spur us on. Every word we write, we try to turn the word “impossible” into I am possible.

Yvonne Foong is a young woman who suffers from a debilitating condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2. Yvonne has been blogging since 2001. In her blog, she shares about her life. It is humbling to read how she courageously overcame her disabilities to live life to the fullest. If only I have half of Yvonne’s fighting spirit, I am confident I would have achieved something and made my life more meaningful than it is now.

Two weeks ago, I received an email from Selina Zainal. She recounted how she was diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis one year ago and how the disease had destroyed two of her lumbar vertebras and how she had experienced severe pain and months of treatment. I read that email several times but I could not find the correct words to tell her how impressed I was with her bravery. I still have not replied to her properly. Selina, if you are reading this, know that you too have inspired me and I pray that all will be well with you again.

I know the havoc an immune system disorder can wreak on an otherwise healthy body. Crowded places must be avoided. The flu season is feared like the plague. Still, she trudges on that uncertain path, wondering when and where she will catch the next infection from. The human spirit is one that can never be conquered if we have the heart to overcome it. Nebula is one such person. We have chatted occasionally. She wrote something beautiful about me in Embrace Life! Nebula, you too are embracing life in your very own ways. One who can share her struggles openly is certainly one who is not giving up so easily. You go girl!

My life is not all a bed of roses. I do have my own demons that I sometimes find difficult to exorcise. Lately, there is this poem that I always look back to when I am faced with a situation that I feel has become hopeless. Becky could not have put it better. Thank you for those beautiful verses. I am reproducing it here:

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

I have a lemon,
What shall I do?
Make me some lemonade?
Or sit here and feel blue?

I wanna climb a hill,
I wanna run a field,
I wanna feel the grass,
Underneath my heel.

If only I can still feel,
The sand under my feet,
And sing my favourite song,
Tapping to its’ lively beat.

I wanna play the piano,
And strum my old guitar,
I wanna strut in my tight jeans,
And zip around in my own car.

I can’t do none of those things no more,
But I still have my faith,
Someday God will reward me,
When I’m finished in this race.

And between now and then,
I shall take the ‘lemon’in my hand,
Make me some cool ‘lemonade’,
And share it with my friends!

Related entry:
The Beautiful Things About Friendship

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

10 thoughts on “Inspiring Each Other To Greater Heights”

  1. Hey there. I’ve been a reader of your blog for quite some time now, but I’ve never commented before. I also noticed that you’ve linked my now defunct blog (cynical idealistic eyes). Thank you.

    I just dropped by to say that your blog is very inspirational, and as a Catholic myself, I find your blog to be a steady guidepost.

    God bless.

  2. Count me in as one of your faithful readers. Many people have inspired you but I can honestly say that you have inspired me. God bless. Cheers

  3. The world is getting smaller, and thanks to that, many relationships were born and rekindled too =)

    Nice post, Peter – inspiring!

  4. Thanks Peter.

    And I really admire your faith in God. I cannot imagine myself in your shoes. Being helpless is the worst feeling I can ever have. I’ve been through it for only 3 weeks which is nothing compared to yours. And I hated my experience. Peter, you are an inspiration to me. thank you.

  5. cynical-idealist,
    I am still a Neophyte and there is much that I have to learn about God. A guidepost I am not but lets share our faith so that it may strengthen us as we go along this journey that will eventually lead us to Him.

    Peace be with you.

    By the way, I have pointed the link to your new blog.

    Thank you. This world surely will be a better place if we inspire each other to do greater things. In the few months after my accident, I was blessed with meeting people who have nothing but tenacity to live on despite their severe disabilities. They gave me the impetus to fight on and be where I am now. Thank God for these people.

    Yup, just like how we met. That is truly a wonderful story. 😀

    I can relate to that feeling of helplessness. I have been through that many times. Does not matter whether it is three weeks or two decades, it is your perseverance that had pulled you through. When I see what you have done with your life, I am motivated to push myself further.

  6. Dear Peter,

    Hi there! Thank you for your kind words. I just had my final MRI on Saturday (1 year after diagnosis). It was the longest MRI I ever had! A whopping 2 hours in the machine. I guess they did a thorough check. Basically my bones looked great. It healed properly and straight which means my spinal cord is not compressed. The infection has also cleared. I am however still on anti TB. Will let the Dr.s decide when to stop. I feel great and cherish every moment that I have alive.

    Its great to talk to a person who knows how it feels about this. Lots of my friends and colleagues don’t understand what I went through and it saddened me. I did not get the moral support I very much needed.

    Peter, your blog is an inspiration and strength to many. Maybe you could start a forum for people with disabilities?

    Moral support provides strength which is essence to healing.


  7. Hi Peter…
    Thank you for all the beautiful things you said about me. I truly look forward, daily, to reading your blog, your inspirations, your life. I feel in some way I know you, and understand some of your struggles and triumphs. Life is tough and I think you are quite amazing as each day you find new highlights to embrace. Your blog is like a blossom, unfurling, opening it’s petals for others to see and feel as well as touch, it is palpable. You’re a special person…Love Koda (nebula)

  8. Selina,
    I am happy for you. Good news is always such a joy to receive. The forum is a good idea. Let me ponder over it. I need to clear some personal issues first before taking on another task like this. Take care.

    We have been through some pretty tough episodes. I can relate to your predicament. It is good to see that you are taking this all in good stride. God bless.

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