Movie Magic in Real Life

Posted by Elizabeth Forst in Life After Paralysis on February 08, 2017 # Events

During January and February every year, I spend my weekends at the movies in preparation for the Academy Awards. I always loved the movies as a child and have fond thoughts of attending the cinema with my older siblings, scarfing down popcorn loaded with gooey butter and getting sugary treats. The movies were the ultimate escape.

In my mid-30s, I moved to Los Angeles and the movie scene in Hollywood was huge. My best friend Julie and I took our movie going experiences on Friday evenings very seriously – for the cinema in LA is the heartbeat of the city. Similar to when I was a child, going to the movies was an excellent escape from long weeks working as a physical therapist – it was our escape to another world. Since injury, I now live in Denver and away from the Hollywood scene, yet I still follow the cinema, especially when Julie comes to visit, as the movie topics are hugely important in expanding our minds and cultural experiences.

This year, the list of Oscar nominated movies has provided a wide spectrum of topics with undertones of inspiration and overcoming challenges. In Hidden Figures, three female African-American mathematical geniuses facilitate male-dominated NASA in propelling John Glenn to the moon during the 1960s race to space, pushing the limits of race and female rights during a volatile time in US history.

In Capt. Fantastic, a single dad raises his six wild, ragged yet genius children in the wilderness to avoid the complexities of social life challenging social norms and familial expectations.

Moonlight portrays an African-American gay youth coming-of-age, bravely living his life in Miami. It captures the essence of true love no matter what your sexual preference may be or where you may live.

Lion depicts a five-year-old Indian orphan in Calcutta, India, adopted by a white affluent Australian couple, who spends his adult life in the ultimate search for his lost family.

There are a number of other fantastic nominated movies this year, and I noticed many of them delivered a sense of inspiration, depicting individuals rising to their best abilities. Whether the actors were overcoming racial indifference, sexual preference, socioeconomic trials and tribulations or simply familial relationship struggles, the take-home message was one of "rising above it all" and inspiring those around you leaving a legacy of truth, promise, individuality and solidarity – to name a few.

It got me thinking about this idea of legacy and what type of legacy I will leave behind; more importantly what legacy that we, the current spinal cord population, will leave behind to our next generation of SCI's.

Many of us in the SCI community have a personal story about how we came to be living a life from a wheelchair –stories that would undoubtedly be excellent screenplays for movies in Hollywood. Whether our story was being thrown from an ATV on a sunny afternoon with friends, a perilous dive into the ocean or pool hitting the head at just the right angle, or maybe a weird spinal infection that suddenly changed your life forever, we all have our unique story; we all have our personal screenplays of life. Most importantly, we must find strength, endure and foster inspiration to overcome our "story" and cultivate the legacy that we leave behind for others in our path.

With this idea in mind, it is crucial to get involved and become an active participant of your life, no matter what your story may be. Volunteer your time, speak and educate others, engage children, start a foundation or company that assists others in the SCI community, write letters to your government elected officials encouraging the rights of the disabled, mentor the newly injured, write a blog, protest political happenings if that suits you, and travel to expose others in the able-bodied world to our population rolling around the globe from a wheelchair. Get involved, make your voice known, be confident and understand that your personal story will touch so many others.

So now I ask you, what will your legacy be?

Keep on keeping on, EB

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.