At times, I take a lot of things, and people, in my life for granted. Although I try to be aware of how lucky I am in so many ways, I think that taking some things for granted some of the time is normal. If everyone was consciously grateful for every single positive thing, there would be no time to eat, sleep, work, or actually enjoy all of the things we are lucky enough to have in our lives.
But part of what I love about the volunteering I have had the opportunity to do lately is that it puts things into perspective and makes me aware of how lucky I am to have things which I generally don’t even realize I take for granted.
Today I was volunteering for the Stroke Association, helping out at a communication support group for people who have had strokes and have communication impairments as a result. The people who attend these groups come from a range of backgrounds, and the severity of their communication impairments vary widely. Some of the people can communicate well enough to hold a conversation (with some pauses and struggles throughout), while others can only say a few words. Some people can not even tell you their own names or tell you when they need to go to the bathroom.
I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to know what you want to say but not be able to find the words to say it. But that isn’t all. Most of the people who attend these groups also have physical impairments, many have trouble remembering things, and most of them have lost a great deal of their confidence and independence as a result of their strokes. Each time that I talk to the people at these groups, I become aware of more and more things that I take for granted each day.
In spite of all of this, the people I meet at these Stroke Association groups generally maintain very positive attitudes, and they manage to laugh at themselves and laugh together about their struggles. It is very inspiring.
I am sure that I will continue to complain about things and take plenty of things for granted, but at least for today, I just want to remember how lucky I am to be able to move all of my limbs and communicate my thoughts, to tell people my own name, to ask for the things I want, and to have the confidence that when I start telling a story, I will be able to finish it if I want to. These are things that I most certainly take for granted every day.
My time volunteering is coming to an end soon, and I am very anxious to start my job and get back to the life which I am used to. However, I will never forget the lessons I have learned or the people I have met through my volunteering. It has been an amazing experience, and although the point of volunteering is to help and support the people at these groups, I can only hope that I have been able to give back to them a tiny fraction of what they have given to me.