So even before the adventures had begun, I knew my list was about much more. It was becoming about two things and two things only, commitment and moving on. Hrmm actually three things, I’ve definitely gotta chuck freedom in there too. And to deconstruct this a bit more, I’d thought long and hard about every item [on my list], and each one had a unique aspect to it. Some would be physically challenging, some mental, and others for an all-round good laugh. But my very first item, and I always knew this had to be first, it was #1 Leap of Faith. You see to me the ‘leap of faith’ was a simple choice, obviously that was to undertake the whole bucket list adventure. Well, nah if it was that straight forward, hey it probably wouldn’t have made the list to begin with. See the complexity in the leap of faith was not so much in having the balls to start doing the items on the list, to me it was letting people know I’m doing it. And in doing so, the condition of my health, and nature of my disability, yeah they would surely become known to everyone. I mean a lot of people were aware of my illness, especially to anyone I’ve associated with over the previous few years. And at this point, I was sorta comfortable with that, but what I wasn’t too comfortable with was all the people I hadn’t seen in years knowing the in’s and out’s of my physical downfall. These were my peers from high school, maybe a childhood friend or even just some random bloke I knew once upon a time. After all, who wants to be known as the disabled guy, who once was an alright dude. (How would you feel?)
So anyhow, I thought the best way to get this information out there was through the use of social media. I’m not too big on Twitter, so I decided to go with Facebook. Also, I think Facebook represented a fair cross section of my mates, acquaintances and a few randoms thrown in for good measure. So what I decided to do was write a message and send it to the inbox of all my 234 Facebook friends, regardless of who they were or what our association. (Just want to say hi Miranda Kerr, oddly I was friends with Miranda at the time) Nevertheless, the message outlined, very basically that I had a pretty chronic disability, and how I had for several years now. I also outlined my bucket list idea, all while trying to keep a positive yet realistic spin on things. There was also a link to my bucket list website as well so people could check out my list. I swear, or I thought, a few people would think I’d lost my shit. Then also, for those not on Facebook, I sent out a few e-mails and sms messages to cover all my bases. Because I tell you bloody what, I was not doing this bloody twice.
To be honest, I was very apprehensive about people’s reactions, I mean it’s not every day you find out about someone’s disability (or all round demise), let alone their desire to do 150 different things on a bucket list. It still seems a little drastic to me these days. Or maybe I feared the negative water cooler talk, ‘hey this bloke’s a cripple, isn’t he meant to waller in his own self-pity and we all say ‘poor Mark’, or some stereotypical shit like that. Well, this little black duck didn’t want to cop it that sweet. In fact, this is what I found hard to handle, the unknown nature of how people would react to someone with a disability, you know having a crack at something so extreme. Now I don’t think like this these days, but at the time I surely did – sadly. Most likely or definitely this was insecurity, see I knew first-hand, the awkwardness, people avoiding me, the sugar coating, then all about other’s expectations for me to now aim low. It was no surprise to me – I experienced it most times I went out. ‘Look my body’s screwed okay’, but all I wanted was for people to treat me on face value (despite my ambition), I mean I was still a human being.
So can we all see my leap of faith now. And the complexity, it was the information that I had chosen to share with my peers about my disability and ambition, and to be alright with their subsequent responses. It wasn’t all about me though, about what I think, nor was it about what people would think of me. What intrigued me most was my peers, their friends, basically anyone who got their hands and eyeballs on this information, and their responses. Whether they accepted a person with a disability to have dreams, goals and ambition like anyone else, or choose to discriminate and say ‘no bloody way there’s no chance, he’s a retard’. Whoops okay maybe that was a bit too far but you get my point. Still, I guess in the end my leap of faith related to humanity and the human spirit as a whole. So as I put myself out there, it was up to my peers to judge me and what I now represented, this was my leap of faith. Now I’m no disability advocate either, nor do I have the desire to be one – so feel or say what you like here – at least I put myself out there, and what would be would be.
I’m sure many of you are already aware, but for those who aren’t this may come as a bit of a shock, and that is that I am chronically disabled. After returning from a trip to Europe in 2003 my body slowly got weaker and weaker until a bizzaro disease process rendered me a quadriplegic. My mind is still quite sharp; as some might say ‘I’m just as dumb as I’ve always been’, but my body is rat shit. To date there is no known diagnosis as I do not fit into the norms of any known illness, but hey what do you do… shit happens.
I’m continually searching for a cure, but the lengthy process has seen my life slowly slip away.
But don’t freak out, it’s not all doom and gloom people, I’m about to embark on another epic adventure. (This message is just part of that process) I’m about to begin a ‘Bucket List’, which all going to plan should create some adventure and excitement in my life. So for all of you out there in facebook land, you might be hearing from me, as I might need some help with some of my goals. Alternatively, feel free to contact me with advice, opinions or to help out, I’d love to hear from you at any time no matter how long it’s been since we’ve spoken.
The link to my blog and list is: www.buckets150.blogspot.com
Also I will start putting up pics as well, so you can all see my shenanigans.
Wish me luck.