By: Jose B. Maroma, Jr.
WHILE I was going through a therapy session for a lumbar spine problem at a hospital in the city, I was seated next to a wheelchair-bound patient, apparently well-heeled, who sounded bitter as he recounted an accident which paralyzed him from the waist down.
He said he was standing one afternoon at a road bend overlooking his farm. Nearby was a boisterous group of men indulged in a drinking spree.
Suddenly a wayward jeep came up and sideswiped him, causing severe spinal injury. He wondered why, of all those in the immediate vicinity, it was him who got hit. He could not come to terms with his transformation from active social activity to a sedentary existence for the rest of his life.
Wary of his feelings of frustration, I gently and tactfully reminded him about Arthur Ashe, the American tennis great whose story many tennis fans are familiar with. Arthur Ashe was the first black man to win the US Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon. He was admired not only for his playing skills but also for his good demeanor on and off the court. He was also active in the promotion of human rights, education and public health.
One day Arthur Ashe underwent surgery and contracted the HIV virus through contaminated blood transfusion. When his fans learned that he was dying of AIDS they swamped him with messages of sympathy, one of which read, “Why does God have to select you for such a bad disease?”
Arthur Ashe replied: The world over – 500,000 learn professional tennis, 5,000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach Wimbledon, 4 to the semifinals, 2 to the finals. When I was holding the cup, I never asked God “Why me?” And today, in pain, I should not be asking God, “Why me?”
Arthur Ashe concluded his discourse with these memorable lines,
Happiness keeps you sweet,
Trials keep you strong,
Sorrow keeps you human,
Failure keeps you humble and Success keeps you glowing,
but only Faith and Attitude keep you going.