Upheaval

Some years ago, there was a period in my life when everything was going beautifully. I was busy and active, but never overly stressed. During those days, I felt at the height of my creative powers, like I was growing in every way. And here was the amazing thing: every resource I needed just seemed to come into my life, without my having to go chase it down. You ever have one of those times, when everything just seems to be going your way? That’s what it was like. And I’m not talking about just for a day, or a week, but month after month, things just kept going like that, getting better and better. I should have known that streak wouldn’t last forever. Somehow, I didn’t see the crisis coming. It came anyway. One day, for no apparent reason, all hell broke loose. Suddenly it seemed like everything was in turmoil. Everything I’d taken for granted, the stretches of peaceful concentration, the effortlessness of everyday life — gone. It wasn’t just that I was being shaken out of a sense of complacency. It was more like I was being shoved out of my life. I’ve never been through an earthquake, nor experienced the fury of a volcano or the direct hit of a lightning strike — but I’ll bet they all feel something like what I was feeling now. It’s hard to describe in detail, but it seemed like every aspect of my surroundings, an environment that had so recently felt altogether nourishing and supportive, had all at once turned against me. I want things to go back to the way...

Dream with Legs

I was watching an interview on television with Amy Purdy, an Olympian bronze medalist in snowboarding who also took second place in a recent season of Dancing with the Stars. In the interview, she said something that so struck me, I had to dash to my computer and write it down: “If my life were a book, and I were the writer, how would I want the book to go?” Amy says she had this thought at an especially difficult juncture in her life, and that once she posed the question, she realized that she wanted that book to go exactly the way she’d always pictured it: she would have a big, exciting life as a highly successful competitive snowboarder and inspire millions. At one point in that book, she would be interviewed on television by Oprah. Which was, in fact, exactly who she was being interviewed by right now. Every part of that book of which she had imagined herself as the writer had since come true. All of which is admirable enough. But here’s the thing: back when she was having that conversation with herself, that difficult juncture when she made the decision to hold that vision for herself, there was one little detail about her life that to anyone else, might have made publishing that book seem like an impossibility. She had no legs. At age nineteen Amy suffered a horrific bout of infectious meningitis that nearly killed her (the doctors pegged her chances of living at 2 percent) and led to the amputation of both legs. Awakening on her hospital bed to find her legs...