I can think of a hundred great memories that only involve me. At least a hundred.
One of my favourite memories was a long run at Lake Minnewanka, near Banff, Alberta. It was about 10 years after the accident.
After overcoming the hemiparesis I began running as a sport and was training for a race. (I never really raced. I sort of participated in organized runs.) I was training for a marathon (42K or 26.2m) so I planned a long, slow jog of 35K along the lake shore. The rocky trail headed up the mountain, then extended along a shale slide, and finally came back down, twisting and turning beside the lake.
As I ran further and further away from populated areas, I also ran deeper and deeper into bear territory and Lake Minnewanka is Grizzly Bear country. So every minute or so I’d let out a loud WHOOP! to alert any nearby bears that I was coming. I wanted to warn them and provide ample opportunity for them to move off before I arrived.
Just after I let out a whoop I ran down a small hill and came round a stand of lodge-pole pine and there stood three Rocky Mountain Goats, just a few feet away. If I would have reached out with a stretch I might have been able to touch them. They looked at me as though to say, “Why are you yelling?” The goats weren’t dangerous and they weren’t scared. I watched them for a couple of minutes and they watched me and when then they moved casually up the hill I continued the run.
If I would have been with others, talking and laughing, I might not have had to yell whoop, but I also likely wouldn’t have seen those goats. They would have heard a group coming and likely would have left before we arrived. The goats make a beautiful memory. Life should be full of beautiful memories.
So I like being alone. Maybe it’s because after the TBI I was alone a lot.
I’d lost my driver’s license. I’d lost my job. I’d lost some friends (and kept others) but they all had lives beyond me. And most of the time I was at my parents’ house which was locate on an acreage far away from urbanity. During the day both parents worked so there was no other choice but to sit alone in that place.
I won’t say I didn’t feel sorry for myself: I couldn’t write; I couldn’t read; I was constantly in pain; I had trouble walking for longer distances. So I watched TV — a lot. I ate — a lot. But I also used the time to reflect, to plan, to consider, to focus, to meditate. I used the time to find purpose. I used the time to discover myself. I used the time to play guitar. After a while, I learned to love solitude.
Being alone is a great thing. It gives you time to get familiar with you.
So give yourself the gift of a day alone. If you wonder what to do, there are so many things: Go for a walk. Bake a loaf or bread. Sing. Write in your diary and plan for the future. Exercise. Set some goals. Read.
But do your best to avoid the bears. Goats are fine. Just avoid the bears.
In the spring of 1990 Allan Boss was in a motor vehicle accident. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. The attending neurosurgeon informed his family that he would never walk again or talk again. He recovered and finished three university degrees including a Ph.D., wrote/edited four published books, completed four marathons and his CBC Ideas program “Updrafts” about recovering from brain injury won nominations for multiple international awards including the Peabody and the Prix Italia.
He is currently writing a non-fiction book about his recovery.
Want to learn more? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Send Me the Free Outline to his book, The Memory Box.