I went into the bookshop/cafe where I used to volunteer this afternoon for a cake (they do amazing home made cakes!) and had a nice chat with the manager couple. It was nice going back, I don't think I've been back there since I had to leave and I really do miss the Wednesday afternoon shift when I used to volunteer there.
About 5 minutes after we arrived, a man came in who I remember seeing once or twice while I worked there and he sat down on the table beside us (my mother and I). He started talking to us and straight away, it was obvious something wasn't quite right with him. I remembered him as I say, but couldn't remember what was wrong with him. Talking to him, I remembered he had been in a road accident as a teenager and suffered brain damage. It was obvious that he had problems with his memory far worse than my memory problems and it was clear that he was desperately frustrated with his brain damage and inability to do anything about it. But speaking to him, his extreme frustration and sadness was tinged with a hint of relief and positivity. He was saying that he should be grateful that he could still walk and talk, see and hear, taste and smell. He was glad he was still alive, that he'd survived the accident and still had some of his independence. But all this positivity was hidden deep in his frustration at not being the man he used to be, the changes he'd had to make in his life to adapt.
I could identify with his frustration and sadness, but I knew my problems were nothing compared to his. Plus, even his problems were small compared to others and he was grateful for this. If a man suffering with brain damage could put his problems into perspective and stay positive, then I should take a leaf out of his book and realise that there are a lot more people much MUCH worse off than myself.
I really did feel sorry for him. But I know sympathy doesn't usually do anything for anyone. His greatest wish was to help someone improve their life. So, even if he doesn't know he's helped me, I'm going to make sure his wish is fulfilled. He has helped me put my problems into perspective and made me realise, that there's no point feeling sorry for myself, no point having daily pity parties.
I've no idea how long this positivity will last. But it's at least improved myself today. He's such a nice guy who's sadly suffered brain damage and I really wish that there was some way to reverse it. I genuinely hope that he can find real happiness in his life and that he keeps his little piece of positivity intact.