All Right – Stop, Collaborate and Listen.

Upon reading the title to this week’s post, those of a certain pedigree have a certain song in their head now, and perhaps a few of them are hoping for a nostalgic drive down memory lane (rollin’ in a 5.0, with the rag-top down so their hair can blow). I understand where you’re coming from, but let me say something first…

In the last few weeks, I’ve referred to seismic shifts that have taken place, both internally and externally. The divine timing of these developments leaves me feeling as if I am surfacing, that all the shit resulting from the accident, all the fallout, has finally been spent, and I’m free to do what I want. I will stop short of using the prosaic and overused phoenix metaphor, but you get the point.

The biggest difference at this point, however, isn’t a change so much as a return. With increasingly less time spent in extreme self-analysis, I can stop dwelling on myself and get back to what I much prefer doing – focusing on others. Over the years, my social chops had all but atrophied from lack of use – a phenomenon fuelled first by necessity, then by insecurity. The skills are starting to come back, however, and this is part of the excitement I mentioned last week. Fatigue and cognitive issues continue to throw a wrench in the works sometimes, but it’s more like a 5mm Hex Key (the one that gets worn down the quickest in the bike shop) instead of the industrial-sized pipe-wrench it used to be. I don’t know if my boosted self-esteem has resulted from flexing my social muscles or vice-versa, but I feel I am more socially palatable as a result.

In more ways than I would like (or perhaps not?), adjusting to and living with my brain damage, has made my story one hell of a story – I mean, it’s a pretty cool story, right? It’s taken the better part of a decade – an epoch of constantly enduring more than I thought possible – to get here, but, to put it bluntly, brain damage is a great ice-breaker (and I’m the runaway winner in cool scar contests). Capable now of framing my story in an agreeable manner, I find my experiences afford me ample touch-points with which to connect with others more readily. Trauma, disability, stigma, insecurity, fear, change, improvisation, growth, perspective – you name it, brain damage has given it to me. And now my handicap and I have teamed up in a most intriguing collaboration, directing my actions and thoughts towards an entirely different pursuit.

The new underlying motive to my efforts – embarking on new adventures, discovering new interests, initiating meetings with friends old and new – is to learn how others approach life. I listen to their perspectives and experiences, and the conclusions they’ve come to as a result. My car-accident story has been marked with struggle, and acknowledging this side of it emboldens others to share their struggles. This is a most beneficial practice, I find, a means of taking the shit that befalls us, and making it into something useful, and even good. I do have a lot to say on the subject, I mean, this blog is devoted to it, but I enjoy listening to others more.

And now, for those who still have that song in their head:


About jaybrandsma

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4 Responses to All Right – Stop, Collaborate and Listen.

  1. Naomi says:

    I find myself cheering for you in a new way! Yay! Jay is here. (not Jay, the brain-damaged one and not the “old” Jay either)…it’s Jay-the one we already love!

  2. Michelle says:

    why is your blog snowing?

    • jaybrandsma says:

      It’s festive, all right? I haven’t decorated, I haven’t played Christmas music, I don’t have a tree, but I have snow falling on my blog. Merry Christmas, Meesh ;)

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