I gave in this morning to a moment (or two) of self pity. Yes, I threw myself a little pity party and I was the only sad soul to attend. My reasons having been pretty inconsequential. Comprised of both situations that I had no control over entirely, as well as those I could ultimately control, just not in that very moment. I let it eat at me for a bit. But then, I did something that I’ve become progressively better at (proud moment…drum roll please); I stopped. I turned the anxious negativity off like a faucet and decided that wasn’t the way I was going to spend the rest of this perfectly good day.
Sometimes in order to redirect our thinking, we need a little perspective. As I sat behind the wheel of my car during my trip home from the morning school rounds, a story came to mind. A story I came across last year about a man whose life, whose struggles and subsequent accomplishments left a lasting impression on me. This man’s name is Michael Naranjo.
Michael is a famous Native American sculptor. The unique (and awe-inspiring) thing about this artist, beyond his abundance of talent, is that he is completely blind and has limited use of his right hand. He is known by some as “the artist who sees with his hands”.
In his early twenties, Michael received notice that his service was needed in the U.S. Army. Mind you, Michael had been raised on a Native American reservation in New Mexico. That assignment essentially meant he would be fighting to protect a country that had “historically treated his people poorly, without honor”. Talk about mixed feelings! However, just six weeks into his time served in Vietnam, this young soldier was hit by a grenade.
During one interview, when recalling his initial hospital stay after sustaining his injuries, he said “he kept reminding himself that he was alive and he was able to think. He felt that as long as his mind was clear he would be okay.” That measure of optimism is something I just can’t fathom. To be able to turn what most would consider an incredibly grim situation into a positive. That mentality still holds true with the artist today. In a more recent interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Michael says of his career: “Sculpture is what I wanted to do. Somehow it lends itself to touch. So it worked out, even with one hand and no eyes. I’m fortunate that I’m doing what I always wanted to do.”
This story will always serve as inspiration to me and a reminder that our circumstances only affect us as much as we let them. The one valuable thing that we have total control over is our mindset. I hope that you can take the time to view some of this man’s works of art and that you may find some inspiration of your own today. Is there someone in particular whose story has touched you?
(Unless otherwise noted, quotes are from the book Patience: The Art of Peaceful Living by Allan Lokos)