denying the infinite capacity.

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
G. K. Chesterton quotes

i had the chance to go to walter reed hospital yesterday, a military hospital that specializes in soldier rehabilitation. its attention to detail was obvious, but it is what one would expect seeing as it was occupied by soldiers. smiling faces enveloped the first wheelchair as it rolled past, an anomaly i assumed. but after awhile i noticed that it was more of a pattern that took me awhile to grow accustomed to.

when we walked into the first room i didn’t know what to expect, i thought i was going to see a soldier laying on his back staring at the wall, daydreaming of some desert scenario where he twists and turns his way into a different outcome. but i found no hidden regrets in the three hours that we were there.

the first guy ‘chris’ was surrounded by friends and family, with hundreds of cards posted over the place like wallpaper. he had a grin on his face as we walked in and wasted no time befriending each and every one of us. his story was tragic but you couldn’t tell it by the enthusiastic and upbeat way he conveyed his story.

‘chris’ was shot 4 times, ravishing his legs. the impact of the bullets shattering his femur shoved him over a wall where he fell 20 feet onto the ground below. once there the armed gunman still shot round after round at him, but ‘chris’ mustered the strength to drag himself over 40 feet to safety. his goals and dreams for the future is to ‘once again walk’, said all through smiles, with the distinct accent of ‘hope’.

stories like this reoccurred all day, some stories being more tragic then others, but all with similar endings, hope. i even met a father of twins who explained that if he not been shot and his leg amputated that he would not have been there to watch his babies being born! HOW! how do people see so clearly through the grey to see the one lone bright spot, and then exploit it to such a profound end.

“Most human beings have an absolute and infinite capacity for taking things for granted”
Aldous Huxley quotes

a few soldiers broke down and told us that they do get down, and saddened by their circumstances but they tell me that they can’t let that get them down for long or it will consume their lives. the MOST positive outgoing upbeat person was a ‘leon’ who had lost both his legs and one of his arms in a roadside explosion. after his intense story he explained that he came home to a caring wife, a new home that a non-profit organization bought him, and a few months later found out his wife was pregnant with his second child. he told us his life had never been better, all that, with only one arm.

and i digress; i catch myself complaining about the small insignificant meaningless moments in my own life, but i walked away not feeling guilty for my heaven bound disagreements but completely motivated to look at the darkest moments of my own life and figure out a way to see the smallest ray of hope and expound on that. these men were not sorry, or saddened but hopeful and proud. i hope one day i can be as brave and strong in the face of my own battles as those men i met at walter reed.


Angie said…
WOW!!! Leaves me feeling incredibly petty and small! Amazing how people with "more" can feel so much less blessed in the things that really matter...
punkeymonkey529 said…
Thank you for sharing this!,this has brightened my day up even more.

I love how people can see light at the end of the darkest tunnels.
Elizabeth said…
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences :) It is amazing, that the more people seem to have lost, the more they often truly gain in terms of experience, outlook, and intangible blessings.
Anonymous said…
i will continue to praise you on these blog entries. they are some of the most inspiring blogs that i have ever read. i have recently began reading all your entries because i am a huge fan of your lyrics and the message that you send through each song. i am patiently awaiting one of your concerts so i can finally see you in person. you have changed my view of life. thank you
Anonymous said…
Our brave soldiers are risking their lives daily yet we have the Dali Bama who was given a report from his handpicked General requesting an immediate 40,000 troops since August and yet still can't make a decision. Simply ridiculous.
Swish84 said…
Absolutely amazing story. Incredibly uplifting and sobering. Thanx Stephen :)
Lulu said…
lovely. puts everything in perspective. Somehow realizing what matters makes mundane things less so.
angela bruni said…
This post couldn't have been posted at a better time. My best friend has just been diagnosed with a rare bone density disorder and the treatment is causing her to lose her hair. She's still out there, smiling, trying to return to her schooling, playing her guitar. She does have her breakdowns from the pain but she's been making an effort to keep her spirits up. I admire her a lot.

I always send her your blog entries that spark intrest, and I hope she finds a little more solace in the fact that there's always a beautiful side to a harsh reality.

Thank you Stephen.
goodnightpunk said…
I totally agree with you. So often I spend my time complaining about my life, when I have so much.

Thanks for the reminder.
Seaniam said…
S' you write from the heart and speak to the core in us which wants to relate with the 'hope' in your subjects stories. I have never seen what you shared about in the hospital, but i am wiser and glad for reading about your experience.
Anonymous said…
this is so incredible. it makes me realize i should stop thinking all the time all my life sucks so much when really im blessed. my dad's retired from the navy and i am so thankful that he has never been called overseas. he was in nyc for a while which was tough but i realize it would have been much tougher had he been sent over there. thanks for the inspiring words. :)
Mary said…

Watch this interview. This young man, full of joy, was born with no limbs. We are so blessed and don't even stop to thank God. This Thanksgiving we can do just that. Thanks for opening this discussion.
Wow, that is an incredible story, Stephen. I hope I can be like that too.
Mathea said…
thanks for sharing with us your experience at walter reed.

this post reminded me of what i saw on youtube the other day. how precious kids react to such mishaps that have befallen on their marine fathers on sesame street (yep!). truly a heart-wrenching tearjerker.

life goes on no matter what happens.
Anonymous said…
Though impossible to instill the importance about being grateful to all those we associate ourselves with, we can start by making changes ourselves. You ended your blog in the best possible manner. Taking the experience you underwent and applying it positively to your life- kudos Stephen!
Emily said…
I love this!
It reminded me of a kinda similar story of hope..I was having some kinda rough times at house was being foreclosed a good friend of mine had just passed away..i was feeling bad for myself...I had the opportunity to go on a missions trip to Belize..While their we went to an orphanage where i met a young girl named Brittany..Brittany knew that her parents left her at the orphanage because they didnt want her..she had been there her whole life she had no family that would come and visit her she was very much alone when i met her she was she was telling me her story she could see the pain that i was feeling for her in my face..and imeadiately i sensed a change in the tone of her voice "she said O no dont feel bad for me!Im going to going to college. Everything is alright im changing my life around..and then im coming back to this orphanage to help kids like me." her hope forever change my thinking if she can have such strong hope in her dire situation..with all this things and family that i have i need to be able to find hope in my situation!
Book of James said…
I believe the human ego was intended to be filled with God and the Human nature is to try and fill it with anything and everything but God. That is why we can never satisfy or fill it on our own.

You seem to be rediscovering humility all the time. What I appreciate is the way you share that with the rest of us.

Anna said…
Thanks for reminding us to see the good things in life. It's so easy to only see the negative stuff, the little problems that trip us up. But there's so much good and light in this world, and to see it, all we have to do is open our eyes.
Joel Hamlet said…
This post brought tears to my eyes. I always try to remember my fallen brothers whenever I get stressed by the obstacles in my own life. It personally puts everything in perspective for me.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for another great entry. I am soaking it all in. I currently work as a subcontractor for the Army and had the opportunity to meet some pretty courageous men and women at their big AUSA meeting. I especially enjoyed their highlights of their NCO's. With excitement and awe, I felt like a child telling a hero thank you and great job. They were so humble about their accomplishments and those that came back injured got right back up and requested to get sent back to Iraq. Incredible hope, heart, and selfless duty and honor. It really touched my heart.
nicogirl said…
I am honored to live two doors down from a Walter Reed patient. He sustained serious gunshot wounds in Iraq. Fox News was filming as it took place. It was of all days Veterans Day and they were honoring the troops. The day took a bad turn though. I sat helpless in my kitchen with Greg Palkot of Fox reporting the loss of Marines. I knew in my heart that my friend Klay was one of them. I was panicked beyond any reason.

The news arrived the next day, yes he did die, but just momentarily. He was miraculously resuscitated by brilliant men on the ground. He was rushed to Germany and then ultimately back to the USA. The human effort it took to keep him alive in those hours is immeasurable. His friends weren't as fortunate. They did not make it.

After years of rebuilding his face and leg, the first thing Klay did was return to Walter Reed with a nonprofit organization he created to serve the needs of those that did not get to walk away.

Klay has offers from Plastic surgeons to make him look "perfect" again. He says NO, my scars tell my story and I want to tell it. And tell it he does.

If you want to learn more here is the link.

Klay also is the subject of a movie "Company of Heroes" produced by Fox News with the real footage of the Marine troop East India Company.

I am so proud to know Klay and so thrilled to see him smile. Nobody minds when he shreds the silence of our sleepy neighborhood with his motorcycle tearing down the street. It's the best sound in the world, Klay's out tearing up the streets of good old USA. We salute you Klay. Glad to have you back..
Anonymous said…
My boyfriend will enter the army very soon. Thanks for writing this down, it'll help.
nicogirl said…
Another quote by G.K. Chesterton that speaks to this phenomenon of willing soldiers:

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."
Janelle said…
My dad was injured in Iraq a few years ago, & even just getting that news puts things into perspective. His injuries weren't even that serious - although they could've been.

One thing I've found, being around a lot of military men, is they're very willing to tell their stories no matter how many times. What I find interesting, though, is the way they won't talk about other aspects of war they saw or experienced.
Anonymous said…
Stephen- you talked about this at the concert. I find that these people are all very inspiring and hopeful people. I also looked at the website and found that people can send letters to the soldiers.
Anonymous said…
Got this today: If you have time to send a Christmas card here is how.

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington , D.C. 20307-5001

If you approve, please pass it on.
themockingbyrd said…
Until there are no sunsets nor strawberries, I think I shall believe in a loving God and a bright future.

It struck me once, curled under a tarp in the wilderness with rain and bugs seeping through cracks, and a nasty hole in my finger bandaged by a ripped-up handkerchief, that everything I have or am is something that God gave to me, and none of it is anything I could ever deserve.

Even so, I can't begin to comprehend the obstacles that these men overcame, and the hope and gratitude that animates them, now. A tip of the hat to you, Mr. Christian, for the reminder.
Anonymous said…
Lovely, maby obeesity will decline in the US.
sj. said…
write again soon stephen.. oh please do.
Shreyas said…
This article simply ROCKS ! That was a great read for me. keep it up with all the good work..

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More Than Alive said…
When our backs are pushed up against a wall by extreme trials we are forced to a fork in the road. Whether we realize this is happening or not, those of us who endure extreme trials eventually decide for ourselves whether we will walk down the road of accepting our circumstances and trying to become better because of them or whether we'll take the road which will lead us to succomb to the pain and bitterness.

I in no way compare myself to these brave men, but my own health difficulties have rendered me physically and mentally unable to function in many ways at different points in my young life. The one thing I always told myself was "Somebody out there will always have it worse than I". I read your discription of these soldiers and it literally made me tear up. What honor, bravery, and humility these men and women have. If the whole world had the perspective that some of these soldiers have we'd be indestructible. One of the best things about this attitude is that it's contagious. One of the things I'll take away from this post is to maintain my own courage in times of dispair...AND to always keep perspective when things are going rough.

I wish I had the means to do more for those who serve our country. I'm proud that you took the time to visit that hospital. Thank you for doing that.

Daniel said…
you should widen the margins on your blog
The Seeker. said…
That's always perplexed me. Maybe I'm just a natural pessimist, but it takes me a while to get past the initial dark side of everything. Whenever I hear stories like this, I'm blown away. I so sincerely want to be like that, but I almost feel like you CAN'T have that attitude until you've been through something that demands it. I've lived a pretty "vanilla" life thus far...(a few fruits & nuts here and there, I'll admit...)middle/working class family, decent school, 3 meals a day...can't complain. But hey I don't even have a diploma yet. Life has just begun. One day it'll will throw me a curve-ball...and I hope I'll handle it like they have. Very inspiring. Thanks!
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