Entrepreneur and photographer Marko Dimitrijevic reflects on his recent spinal cord injury and the importance of appreciating what we have
The benefit of any predicament is the opportunity it presents to form new habits and perspectives. All around the world, the coronavirus has resulted in an unprecedented health and economic crisis. Just a few weeks ago, in the midst of the global pandemic, I had my own medical emergency. I fell in my own home and suffered a spinal cord injury. Not being able to move my legs and arms and having to go through a multi-month therapy process completely upended my plans and priorities.
The confluence of these two challenges has led me to think about a few important life lessons.
Be Thankful Now
We only realize the value of something after it is lost. We didn’t necessarily value the calm of daily routine until it was limited by lockdown. Our movements have been restricted; travel plans postponed; every outdoor excursion requires precautionary measures. As I rehabilitate, relearning how to walk and move all my fingers, I am gaining newfound appreciation for these simple acts. I am now committed to being grateful for each of my faculties. I am thankful for all the medical resources, technological advances, and caregivers’ commitment that are coming together to ensure that I regain my strength and can one day return to my full schedule. Most of all, I cherish the support my wife, my family, and my friends are giving me during this challenging experience.
Shift Priorities: Focus on What’s Important
This trying time has given us the opportunity to focus on what really matters. Now, more than ever before, we are prioritizing our health and giving ourselves and our loved ones the attention we all need to stay healthy, in mind and body. I am a high-energy person who loves to be busy. I thrive on motion and am always planning my next adventure. Convalescing from a serious injury has forced me to slow down. All the drive and motivation I usually channel toward my professional and personal pursuits are now redirected toward my recovery.
Kindness is Power
At work, in daily life, in hospitals, and throughout our communities, we are witnessing acts of benevolence. Even with social distancing, people want to feel connected and they are doing it by showing compassion. It is genuine and it is a powerful tool for healing. This kindness and understanding are comforts as the world around us remains surreal and uncertain. Almost every day I receive texts and phone calls from friends and loved ones wishing me well and inquiring about my recovery. People have offered to help me, and my family, in a variety of ways. I am strengthened by the outpouring of love and know that it is giving me strength as I recuperate.
See Everyone, Thank Everyone
This year has generated an ever-growing list of people who are genuine heroes in our communities. This includes individuals working essential jobs that keep our lives running smoothly: grocery store employees, sanitation workers, pharmacists, delivery people, etc. Throughout my hospital stay, I have met countless clerks, cleaners, orderlies, and technicians who work alongside doctors, nurses, and physical therapists to keep patients comfortable and safe. I am now more fully aware of the essential nature of the work they do; without them my recovery would be incomplete, if not impossible.
It’s safe to say that the global coronavirus experience, and my personal injury journey, have changed our lives in so many ways. Things may never be the same once this is all over. But it really is up to us to consider which parts of the continually changing “normal” we want to take forward. A world that includes more expressions of gratitude, more focused priorities, more kindness, and more awareness is a world improved.