”Many people look at me and simply see a man with no arms and legs. They pity me, failing to see my happiness beyond my circumstances–failing to see that I live a zealous life, characterized by a deep joy that is unhindered by my circumstances. Although I appear “incomplete” on the outside, I am whole on the inside. Sadly, there are so many people with arms and legs who are whole on the outside but are broken on the inside. Their lives are characterized by unhappiness, dissatisfaction and un-fulfillment. My mission in life is to resurrect strength in these individuals, inspire them to fulfill their potential and motivate them to live life without limits!
Having been born without limbs (and with no medical explanation), I traveled a long road of unanswered questions. I traveled this road for so long that I eventually fell into a deep depression, telling myself that I could only survive as a burden to those around me. I felt like an inconvenience to my parents and a nobody at school. Although I was able to experience the groundbreaking opportunity of being the first “disabled” student to be integrated into Australian mainstream classrooms, I hated my life. Kids were kids, and I was ridiculed and humiliated. Teasing and rejection became the daily norm for me.
Although I had many friends, my life consisted of so much daily bullying that I believed my life had two purposes: to be teased and to be a burden to others. My parents loved me and did their very best to raise me and my two younger “normal” siblings in love, support and encouragement. They helped me believe that there was a future and a hope for my life. They believed in God, but it was a god that I could not understand at the time. How could I have a future for my life when I could not see one? At age eight, my desperation lead me to tell my mom that I wanted to kill myself. At age 10, I tried.
Finally having had enough of life, I went to the bathtub and rolled over. Once … twice … three times. The third time, I could not do it. I could not stomach the visual of my parents and siblings crying at my grave, asking “why?” and blaming themselves. Can you imagine if I didn’t stick around in this life? I had no idea that I would complete a double degree in Accounting and Financial Planning, or that I could type 43 words a minute, or by age 27 I’d be a world-traveler, meeting Presidents and speaking to crowds as large as 110,000 people. I had no idea that I would found two organizations, give to the needy and address four internationally-based congresses. Who could have imagined that a man without arms or legs would be the hands and feet of love, hugging teenagers around the world, telling them that they are loved, making them believe that there is hope and a future for their lives? I love helping people see that their value is not determined by their religion, looks, wealth or job. I love helping them embrace a genuine satisfaction in living, a peace in belonging, and an inspiration to believe that a rich man can be poor, and a poor man can be rich. Each of us can live a life of fulfillment despite our circumstances.
We have a daily choice: we can choose to be angry about what we do not have, or we can choose to be thankful for what we do have. Being angry is counterproductive and fear and pain can be destructive. I believe it is far worse to be in a broken home than to have no limbs. I never try to pretend that I understand your pain, but I am here to tell you that there is hope, whether you see it or not. Just because you cannot see purpose in your life does not mean there is none. You are here for a reason. Find it. Seek it. Live it. If my life’s journey can inspire you to live life to the fullest, never give up, dream big and believe in your potential, I am fulfilled. Why? Because I have come to understand that even when the clouds in my personal storm do not part, I can still carry someone else through their storm. If I do not get a miracle, I can still be a miracle for someone else.
Today, I challenge you. If this was your last day to live, who would you call? Who would you thank? What would you say you have taken for granted? Do your best. Set goals. That is success. What can you do today to be a better person? To be the kind of person you want to become? To be all that you can be?”
The tragic love story of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, the filmmaker and artist who mysteriously killed themselves last year (believing they were being harassed by Scientologists and the government), is headed to the big screen. American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis will be writing the screenplay and director Gus Van Sant has signed on as a consultant for the movie, which is being produced by Braxton Pope and Andrew Weiner of Ithaka films along with Lionsgate. Ithaka bought the rights to Nancy Jo Sales’ Vanity Fair article about the doomed duo, who have become cult figures since Theresa overdosed on Tylenol PM and bourbon last year and Jeremy followed by walking into the ocean. “The story is remarkable and explores profound loss and the tragic dimensions of love,” says Braxton.