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True Things

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

True Things

What holds your life together?
Jonathan  Ellerby Ph.D.
Jonathan Ellerby Ph.D. More by this author
Aug 12, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Alex wasn’t what most people would consider a well-educated man, nor was he wealthy in any material way. The work that he used to do day after day was forgettable by most standards, but Alex was not.

He and I met in a rehabilitation hospital in Winnipeg, Canada. At the time, I was an intern in a spiritual counseling chaplaincy program. I was making my rounds, checking on the patients of the spinal-cord-injury wing. As I approached the last room in the long, wide corridor, a pretty woman, about 30 years old, had just left with two beautiful young girls, maybe ages five and eight. 

I knocked on the door and a man’s bright voice answered, “Come on in!” A bit surprised, I walked in and glanced around the room. One of the beds was empty, and in the other was a young man about 33 years of age. He had a mustache and shaggy shoulder-length brown hair that was brushed back. I introduced myself, and he told me that his name was Alex.

I explained why I was there and let him know that if he needed someone to talk to, I’d be happy to hang out for a while. He asked about the title of my department, saying, “‘Spiritual Care,’ huh? Is that like religion?”

“Well,” I stammered, unsure of his perspective, “for some, it could be about religion. But spirituality is really more personal. It’s about how you answer the big questions in life: what matters, why you are here, which relationships are most important—stuff like that. I try to help people answer those questions.”

“Ah, I see. I’m glad you do. I’ll tell you what . . . I don’t know how I’d make it through this if I didn’t know them things. But sure as shit, I’m clear about true things!”

Alex’s confidence and word choice confused me. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“I might not know much, but I know enough. My dad made sure of that. He said that in life there are ‘true things,’ and as long as you know some true things, you can get through anything. Now that I’m in a bit of a predicament, I see he was right. The true things always last.”

Intrigued, I sat down beside his bed. “Tell me more about ‘true things,’ Alex.”

“Sure. First off, my true things aren’t your true things. For me, they’ve always been the smell of a campfire, the feeling of the soft earth in the spring after the snow melts, the smell of wet hay in the fields, old Chevy trucks, and the music of John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot.” He grinned and got a far-off look in his eyes.

“One month ago I was in an accident on an icy road. I’d been putting off getting new tires with a better tread for the winter because I wanted to save money. I was working as a plumber’s assistant. One night I was driving home from work and hit a patch of ice. My car started to spin out of control, and I skidded right into a lane of oncoming traffic . . . and bam! I was hit in the driver’s side by a big ol’ semitrailer.

“My car was pretty much crushed, and so was I. My legs were broken in a bunch of places, and my spine was damaged, too. They say I’ll never walk again.

“Who could have seen that coming?! Now we’re shopping for a handicap van for me and my wheelchair. My brother is building ramps in every part of our house you can imagine so that when I get home, life can go on. And it will . . . because that’s a true thing. Life always goes on—you can count on that. You just have to decide if your life is going to go on!”

“Aren’t you angry? You’re a very young man to face something like this,” I offered.

“Well, I was at first. Mad at myself and feeling guilty for not fixing my tires. Angry at the ice on the road. Angry at the truck coming my way. But then I realize that I’m glad I didn’t crash into a car with a family in it. Others could have been hurt. It could have been worse. I could have been killed. There are a lot of maybes in any situation, but I can only face the true things: I’m here and I’m glad.

“I love my wife and two little girls more than the world. That’s a true thing. I’d do anything for them, and the last thing I’d ever want is to leave them without a daddy. My family is the most important thing to me. That’s a true thing. I’ve seen other folks in here. They lose their ability to walk, have sex, or what have you . . . and yeah, it’s awful. But you know what is more awful is that they get so sad and angry that they lose everything else, too. They pay so much damn attention to what they lost and who they used to be that they can’t see what they have. That’s what my dad would call a wasted life. I guess they just don’t understand true things.”

“You have a smart dad,” I added.

“Yes, and I’ll make him proud. I know he’s watching over me, remindin’ me to be grateful. I survived, I still have my family, no one else was hurt, and I still got my hands. I was always good with my hands . . . I’ll find something else to do.

“My motto has always been to stick close to the ones I love, try to brighten other people’s day, and find a way to get the bills paid on time. The true things about me can’t be wrecked in a car crash—they’re mine and they’re untouchable. That’s how I know I’ll be fine.”

I never found out what became of Alex, but I’ll never forget the way he inspired me with his spirit and his “true things.” I still feel emotional when I think of how courageous and positive he was. Somehow he knew that if he just stayed soul centered, everything else would be okay. I’m sure that it was.

About Author
Jonathan  Ellerby Ph.D.
Jonathan Ellerby, Ph.D., is an important guide to inspired living in today’s hectic world, bridging cultures and professional disciplines to help people find what works. Featured as an expert in film, print, television, and radio, Jonathan is the aut Continue reading