Life is full of challenges, face them with fortitude

Let me make an observation.

You’re an intelligent human being, witty, urbane, full of life, great fashion sense and an enquiring mind, your very presence here speaks volumes about your good taste.

But if you’re a member of the human race, and I assume you are because using a keyboard or a mouse requires an opposable thumb (if you’re a raccoon or a bush baby, welcome, I’m not speciast, every hit counts), then at some point of your life you’ve been faced by challenges.

These challenges can be faced in different ways, depression, an upbeat attitude, hiding in the closet, setting fire to the cat, but the point is that no matter how bad the situation is it’s not going away without some form of corrective action.

Any psychologist will tell you that many of the actions we take in dealing with stress or pain are just variations of avoidance, or ‘running away’.

What would happen to you if this avoidance behaviour just wasn’t an option, what would you do if you were faced with an eventuality that was just too terrible to contemplate? If your life was shattered beyond any hope of redemption?

What would happen if you quite literally couldn’t run away?

Well here’s the story of a man I would love to meet, someone who has the heart of a lion.

Peng Shuilin is 78cms high. He was born in Hunan Province, China.

78cms High, think about that. You would immediately conclude that he was a dwarf, a condition that brings with it challenges that many of us simply wouldn’t understand. But the reality is that Peng’s life is so far beyond the challenges of dwarfism, is so mind numbingly tragic that most people’s imagination cannot grasp what this man has had to overcome.

This is Peng Shuilin.

In 1995, in Shenzhen, a freight truck sliced his body in half. His lower body and legs were beyond repair. Surgeons sewed up his torso. Peng,  37, spent nearly two years in hospital in Shenzhen, Southern China, undergoing a series of operations to re-route nearly every major organ or system inside his body.

He kept exercising his arms, building up strength, washing his face and brushing his teeth.

He lived, he grabbed life by the throat and lived, not as a cripple, but as a man determined to squeeze every last drop of existence from his time on this planet.

Now Peng Shulin has astounded doctors by learning to walk again after a decade.

Considering Peng’s plight, doctors at the China Rehabilitation Research Centre in Beijing devised an ingenious way to allow him to walk on his own, creating a sophisticated egg cup-like casing to hold his body, with two bionic legs attached.

RGO is a recipicating gait orthosis, attached to a prosthetic socket bucket. There is a cable attached to both legs so when one goes forward, the other goes backwards.

Peng Shuilin has opened his own bargain supermarket, called the Half Man Half Price Store. The inspirational 37-year-old has become a businessman and is used as a role model for other amputees.

At just 2ft 7ins tall, he moves around in a wheelchair giving lectures on recovery from disability. His attitude is amazing, he doesn’t complain. He had good care, but his secret is cheerfulness. Nothing ever gets him down.

I would never belittle the suffering that many of us go through during the course of this great adventure that is life. All we can hope for is the courage to face our own individual challenges and keep our self respect intact. We owe it to each other to recognise bravery where it exists, and lend a helping hand when and where we see others begin to slide into that terrible and frightening landscape of despair that is fast becoming a reality of modern life.

Life is full of joy, sadness, beauty and love. Take great happiness in the rising of the sun, raise your hands to the sky at the coming of spring, welcome the passing of the seasons, wait for the rain, grow, learn.

Never give up.

(Thanks to Snopes)

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