This I Believe

Megan - Phoenix, Arizona
Entered on May 17, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: courage, hope
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I believe in optimism. I believe optimism allows us the key to our own happiness. With it we have the ability to choose our good and bad days. We have the authority to make every moment the best it can be. We have the power to turn circumstances into opportunities.

I came to believe this through the laughter and stories that I so often heard from my Uncle Jack. My sister and I would climb up onto his cherry red wheel chair and sit on his knees. We were mesmerized by every word. He would let us take turns wheeling around the house, then show off a little by popping a wheelie. In my five-year-old head Uncle Jack was the coolest person in the world with his wheel chair. How did he get so lucky to cruise around in it all day? If I had asked him, that is probably just the word he’d have used: lucky.

My Uncle Jack was an outstanding athlete in high school. He was on the football, track, and baseball teams. He ended up going to the University of Illinois on a full ride football scholarship. One day, freshman year after practice, he and his friends were messing around on a mini trampoline. Being the stud that he was, he attempted to do a flip. When he pushed off, the trampoline slipped out from under him. He landed wrong and from that day on was paralyzed from the waist down.

It is hard to say why it happened to him. He was a great guy and he certainly didn’t deserve it. But he chose to make the most out of the situation he was dealt. Athletics were a huge part of who he was, and although being confined to a wheel chair was not easy, he did not let it get in his way. He eventually went to the paraplegic Olympics and received a bronze medal in archery. He could have let this experience tear him apart, but I think he is an even stronger and happier person because of what he went through.

His life is a testimony to the power of optimism. His story is why I believe optimism can concur all evils. His example has helped me countless times in my life. My hope is if I am ever faced with a life-altering situation, such as his, I will overcome it with the same confidence, strength, and love of life as my Uncle Jack.