While crawling Netflix the other night, I stumbled upon an interesting documentary about an electrocuted bear, a dude who poked said bear (and got himself electrocuted as well), and what those two characters brought to me. Or rather, what they brought back to me.
The premise of the story was this guy out in the woods. He finds a steel “box” thing, and inside of it is a brown bear, dead. He takes out his knife to poke at the bear and 140,000 volts went through him. The bear was inside an electrical panel of some sort, and the current was still flowing. So the result was that the guy had massive damage, blowing out his chest, head, legs, and whatnot. He seriously should not have lived.
The majority of the story is what you’d expect. His gruesome injuries. His recovery. His learning to adapt to prosthetics and return to a version of his old life with new challenges. And not to take away from that often tread upon formula, I really did enjoy it. The film was indeed inspiring. But that’s not what affected me most. It was something more subtle.
Every shot of him in his hospital bed showed him smiling. Or on a bad day, grinning. And it wasn’t a fake expression. Nor was it a forced one. Or even a naive one. It was his inner self shining through, despite his circumstances. And it reminded me of … well … me.
I’ve written and vlogged about this before, so I’ll spare the details, but there were two times in my life where I was paralyzed, all four limbs, and also laying in a hospital bed. Grinning. And I guess I forgot about that. The ability to have natural strength and optimism, without conscious thought. To still have doubts and fears, but to face life with determination and a smile. I had that then. It was commented on frequently by staff and visitors. It was who I was and defined my experience as I recovered.
Another topic I’ve written and vlogged about has been my Generalized Anxiety Disorder that I somehow acquired in 2014. And again, I’ll skip the details, except to say that I have not faced it with a smile. Or with natural strength. In fact, I’ve faced it totally in the opposite manner. And so when I watched this guy in the documentary who so reminded me of the once me, it forced me to remember. And to evaluate.
This isn’t to say that I had a tremendous “a-ha” moment and instantly switched from caffeinated to decaf life choices, because that isn’t what anxiety allows you to easily do. But I had forgotten what once came naturally, and that alone was a lovely remembrance. And yes, I do mean lovely. For I didn’t see myself with sadness of what I once was, rather I saw an old friend that I wanted to catch up with. To perhaps get together with again. I remembered being him. Having that natural optimism. And knowing that he wasn’t gone, just asleep somehow. But waking up.
The movie has faded in my mind, even if it was only a couple of weeks ago. But the memories of my time in the hospital back in 2004 are no longer just coated with dread. I remember who I was. And who I am.