The List Every Paraplegic Must Have

Reading time: 3.5 minutes

Let’s make this quick. I should be studying right now but I became so enticed with the idea of sharing this that I couldn’t resist. 
I also used a very grainy picture and I’m not ashamed.

The list is simple. You have 2 sections. One for what you will do in a wheelchair and one for what you will do when you are out of a wheelchair. 

PS, if you’re not in a wheelchair, this applies to any dichotomy in your life. Maybe you have a broke leg or something that has a before (right now) and after (in the future). It can also apply to being in quarantine.

Why do you need to make this list?

There are many psychological reasons to do this type of thinking. We’ll talk about the benefits of this list along with some explanation of what this list really is.

This list is ever-growing. I call it the Dual Dreams. But don’t let the word “dream” confuse you, these are actual goals that we will actually achieve. Convince yourself of that right now. Before you even know what this list really is, it’s important that you let the benefits of psychology take over and truly believe that this list is not some cozening list full of pretentious, drivel hopes that we retreat to in tough times so that we can take our minds to a mythy world. This is about real life, not mystical fiction.

You can also call it the “twain aims” list if you’re feeling fancy and the rhythm is within you.

Here are the two main benefits that I get from having this list, and there are probably a lot more.

I would even recommend printing this list and posting it up on your wall next to your bed or somewhere in sight. 

The first benefit is that it will give you hope. When things seem down, maybe you’ll never walk again, take a good look at this list, visualize yourself doing these things and remind yourself that it is your goal and your mission to walk once more. Don’t allow this list to dispirit you, instead, have it imbue you with excitement for the future and remind you that you CAN and WILL do these things. Even if everyone is against you, you will prove them wrong! 

The second benefit is that it makes you seriously consider and challenge what you can do NOW. Never get caught up in the pernicious feeling that life is over and you can’t do anything anymore. Maybe you won’t be able to achieve the “Things I’ll Do When I Walk” list right away, but that’s why we have the other section. You are forcing yourself to challenge what you can do while in a wheelchair.

This list excites me beyond exposition. It reminds us that we can still achieve a lot while we’re in a wheelchair and that life is pliable, we shape it with our actions and mind. If you perceive your life as over, everything will soon reflect your philosophy. 

How do you actually construct this list? What does it look like?

I recommend making the list of things you’ll do when you walk, or gain some degree of ideal mobility back, first. Make this list ample. Be creative and think big. What else will you do? Think small?

After you make this list reflecting your wildest dreams, explicate and challenge each item, give serious thought to whether or not this is something that can only be done after you’ve recovered. 

Sometimes, I’ll think of something new that I really want to do and write it down in the “recovered” section but then realize that I can totally do it this week if there weren’t issues with money or some learning curve. So, I take the ambition and move it to the other side.

[Aside] This list actually started off as just a list for what I’ll do after I walk until I realized how powerful it will be if I add the “while injured” section. 

This is a real list, some of the things on this list will be humdrum, but they are nonetheless important to us. You may not think that playing volleyball is all that grandiose, but for me, it’s something I really enjoy.
I’ve never shared or told anyone about this list and now I’m going to reveal it to the world.
Remember that this is MY list, based on what I like and how I want to live my life, we will have big and small things, so long as they are important to us, and we intend to complete them as if it’s life’s dictum. 

Here’s what MY list looks like. There are some things that we could belabor on whether or not they should be on the “Walk” side of the list, but we won’t.

Remember that the things on the list are for you! (I’m saying it a lot because it’s important)

For me, I know I could ski while still in a wheelchair, and I might.
But when I say ski, I envision the type that isn’t in a wheelchair/adaptive skis, and that’s the type of skiing that I want to do. 
I also want to live in an RV and drive around. That one was in the “recover” section until I realized that what I envisioned could easily be done in a wheelchair and it wouldn’t impact the reason I’m doing it (explore, travel, learn and have fun).
I could technically travel to Greece in a wheelchair, but I wouldn’t be able to do the things I want to do (lots of stairs in Greece).
I think you get the point.

The Twain Aims List, AKA Dual Dreams

By the way, this list is in an iPhone-only app called “Bear”


Immediate action item: Make this list right now!

Summary: Create a list with two sections: Recovered and Injured, then write what you’ll do for each part of your life. This is a must have list for anyone in a wheelchair. If you’re not, then I still recommend making the list based on whatever dichotomy is present in your life. It’s helped me a lot!

Overdeliver: Even though I’ve kept this list private, until now, I have gotten involved in the communities for most of these topics and then I inform people of my ambitions (naturally, in conversation) and they are always wanting to help. Take flying for example. I went to EAA Oshkosh and now I know many pilots or retired pilots who want to help me and see me succeed. I’m very grateful for all of them and the only thing really holding me back is the money and the ability to prioritize the apposite time commitment to flying. Remember that everything you’re doing and not doing (within your physical limitations, but even that’s debatable) is a representation of how you prioritize.

PS: PS can be Post-Scriptum or Pre-Scriptum, language is malleable

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