A few years back, I learned of a mountain climber who climbed to the top of the seven highest peaks in the world. That in itself is amazing. The more shocking part is that he is blind. He has the same blinding disease my son has. He lost all of his sight by the time he was 13. His name is Erik Weihenmayer. Immediately, I started researching this man.
Some of you might know Erik from that reality show called Expedition Impossible. His team finished second. In the show, Erik was able to show the whole world how he turned his adversity into a fuel to achieve greatness. He is an awesome role model for my son and for anyone who could ever think that an adversity in life can hold you back.
Erik doesn't just stop at climbing mountains and being an adventurer. He shows others how to do it too. He leads many adventures with wounded warriors and children with disabilities from all walks of life so that more people can feel what it is like to turn that adversity into greatness. What an amazing thing he's doing for the world.
What does every parent want for their child? Greatness, A sense of self-worth, An enlightened mind, Happiness, A fulfilled life, Fulfilled goals, Love, Laughter, Family, and the list goes on. For many parents of children with disabilities, there is some sort of defeated feeling thinking these things might not happen. Don't despair!! An adversity should never hold a person back from greatness, whatever that greatness might be.
In Erik's book (co-written by Paul Stoltz), The Adversity Advantage, they discuss the different "summits" one must reach to achieve this greatness. I think that's how I will try to teach my son how to approach life - by these summits. He wants to be an aeronautical engineer. He can't get there by wanting it. He has to work hard to get there. His first major summit was to do great in school and get accepted into an advanced college-bound high school program, one that will help get him into the kind of college that focuses on aeronautical engineering. I'm proud to say that he has reached his first summit. We received word this week that he was accepted into the AICE program developed by Cambridge University. He will be able to focus on Math and Science there and complete many of his college credits while in high school. His next summit is to actually succeed there. Keep your fingers crossed for him!
My favorite part of The Adversity Advantage is a paragraph titled "Life is Not Fair. Next?" Does it stink that my son was born with a blinding disease. Absolutely. Is it horrible that a woman suddenly loses use of her legs? Definitely. We all have some sort of adversity we're facing. It doesn't have to be a physical disability. It can be a mental one. Or, it can be the loss of someone close. Adversity is all around us, big and small. It sounds heartless but life isn't fair. Move on. Don't just sit there quietly and try to get through each day. Harness that adversity. Take all the feelings of anger, sadness, and despair and turn them into something amazing. Go further than you thought you could go. Erik says that a storm headed his way but instead of running from it, he took it head on! Thank you to Erik Weihenmayer for his motivation!