When I was a child my Catholic upbringing was extremely successful at making me feel guilty about the good things I had. Because the moment I complained about this or that, someone would always say “think of the poor starving children in the world and stop complaining”. From toddlers that whine, to angry adolescents and grumpy old men and women, we all, it seems, have a lot to complain about.
The week before last, I attended the funeral of a beautiful young man, who had spent almost his entire life living in a wheel chair. Severely handicapped he was completely at the mercy of his carers. And although he had so much to complain about in his short 27 year life, he never did. In his last few years his handicap became so severe he had to mentally concentrate on his breathing in order to prevent it from stopping, imagine that.
Nico Debrier, for that was his name, had a brilliant mind. He obtained a doctorate in philosophy and his passions, apart from philosophy, were snooker and formula 1. His whole life was seen from the perspective of his chair in which he sat for all his waking hours. Friends came and friends went, people moved on but he remained, always grateful for what was given him. As he told my wife once “Everything is what it is, not more, not less. Do not focus too much on what perhaps should have been but make the most of what you have available to you”. Perhaps, in part, is ability to content himself and to suppress his own disappointments and anger that he was so attractive to others?
Whatever it was, I have a new model to compare with to replace the image of the starving children when I feel sorry for myself. It’s not that I have forgotten about them, it’s just that Nico reminds me that he had everything he could effectively use and people around him that loved and cared for him – and to be honest, what more can anyone reasonably ask for or expect?
I do not think it a good idea to go around the office reminding people about Nico, every time someone complains about this or that, but I do think that we do need to learn to park our own troubles and be beacons of light and energy to those around us; inspiring them to make the most of their talents and careers and to do great things when opportunities arise.
Have a good week,