Flying Without Wings - A great read!

A friend of mine passed on a great book recently - it's called "Flying Without Wings: Personal Reflections on Loss, Disability and Healing" by Dr. Arnold Beisser. It's a super read - and definitely hits home for those of us struggling with illness.

Here's a quick history on the author, Dr. Beisser, taken from an article in the Los Angeles Times:

At 24, Arnold R. Beisser, having graduated from Stanford Medical School, completed his internship and planned for a surgical residency.

But it was 1950, the United States was fighting in Korea, and Beisser, a Naval reservist, was alerted that he was to be called to active duty. His residency had to be put on hold.
In the four months before his orders came, he devoted himself to his second love, tennis, winning a national championship and a high national ranking. He was young, strong, healthy and seemingly invincible.

Then, a few days after his 25th birthday, he was stricken with polio, paralyzed from the neck down. For two years, he would live in an iron lung, and any further recovery was minimal.

In the years since, he has built a life filled with love, laughter, friends and the rewards of a successful psychiatric career. His book, "Flying Without Wings," was a moving, inspiring chronicle of this 40-year journey.

I bookmarked dozens of pages in this book, but I'll share just two passages with you. Both of these really hit home for me - see what you think:

"Learning to surrender and accept what I had not chosen gave me knowledge of a new kind of change and a new kind of experience which I had not anticipated. It was a paradoxical change. When I stopped struggling, working to change, and found means of accepting what I had already become, I discovered that that changed me. Rather than feeling disabled and inadequate as I anticipated I would, I felt whole again. I experienced a sense of well-being and a fullness which I had not known before. "

Here's another one:

"If someone asked me if I would like to return to being able-bodied, my first question would be, "What would I have to give up?"

(He says his wife says the same about returning to her pre-rheumatoid arthritis state..."What would I have to give up?") He goes on:

"Things happened that we did not want, that we fought against to keep from happening, things that were painful and disruptive. But they brought unexpected opportunities once they happened, and there was no way of turning back. In order to see the opportunities, though, you must accept what happens as if you have chosen it."

Powerful words - and a worthwhile read. I'm honored that our friend thought that, after reading my book, I would enjoy and appreciate this one. I'll be lumped into Dr. Beisser's positive outlook on life any day!


Sadaf Shaikh said…
These are my thoughts exactly! In the beginning, I dared to ask, "Why me?". Then I started to look at the positives of the situation. I got to spend 10 months at home with my son (I was off work). I got to spend 5 full weeks with my parents in Dubai (again, I was off work so didn't have to worry about vacation time). I wrote a Harlequin romance novel (which I'd wanted to do for 3 years but never had the time). My faith became stronger because I was always a control-freak and I (incorrectly thought) that I made things happen in my life. It was a major wake-up call for me to realise that there was a higher power at work and my efforts were useless in the face of my destiny.

Thanks for your blog, Sara - coming here every now and then helps me see that I'm on track with coping.
Sara Gorman said…
Doesn't Dr. Beisser just say it perfectly?! I absolutely agree - and I love the examples you've chosen to share. I can't imagine you having the opportunity for ANY of those things, had it not been for your experience with lupus. And a romance novel! Do tell! We need a title for sure! You offer wonderful insight - it's always such a pleasure hearing from you.

Thanks for your kind thoughts - I think you're RIGHT on track!
Sadaf Shaikh said…
Haha! You know, I just can't think of an appropriate title! Maybe you can help...

It's about a single mother to a 5 year-old boy. Burned in love, she overcomes all obstacles, makes a good life for herself and her son, and promises herself that no man would come between her and her son. Until, of course, a gorgeous new lawyer at work forces her to rethink that promise. The only trouble is, he's young, rich, successful and definitely not ready to settle down.

That's the gist of it. Writing the novel kept me from having a complete breakdown those early months. After that passed, every few thousand words I wrote gave me a greater sense of purpose. I enjoyed every minute of it!
Sara Gorman said…
Oh, what a compelling story! I'm ready to read the whole thing. You should definitely work out a title...and if you're interested, you should check out Lightning or They're both online self-publishing companies, and for a relatively small amount of money, you can get that book of yours published. Definitely keep us posted. I'd love to read a book by someone I "know"!

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