I am not what happened to me but what I’ve decided to be.

Ich bin nicht das, was mir passiert ist, sondern was ich beschlossen habe.

Carl. Gustav Jung

Sometimes, I’d like to be on my own. Say goodbye to all those annoying circumstances and people, and live in a cave or on a mountain or on a desert island. In quiet.

At times, that feels like an attractive option.

Sometimes, I blame others, the world, and the universe for how disorganised, selfish, non-caring, and ignorant they are. I question how God can possibly allow people to kill each other on an industrial scale or ignore the terror inflicted on people who have suffered horrific injuries.

Blaming others, projecting blame, is Psychology 101 taught to every first year psychology student, a friend who is in the know once told me. Apparently, it’s something we all are prone to do.

Sometimes, I just feel like giving up, giving in. Eat ice cream, have a glass of wine, doze off

But – and I bet you knew this ‘but’ was coming – there are times when it becomes crystal clear that it is much more exciting, much more energising, and much more impactful to find strength in community, to take responsibility for who you are and how you live, and to lead an active, healthy life.

Last week was one of those occasions. Here is why.

We were at the An Saol Foundation’s first ever Advent Fest of Hope and New Beginnings with about 80 friends of the An Saol Foundation. A fabulous evening hosted by the Lord Mayor of Dublin Caroline Conway in the Oak Room of the Mansion House. In her welcome, she praised the work of the An Saol Foundation, the families and the staff, who, she said, finally were offering those with a severe Acquired Brain Injury an environment for Life and Living with their injuries.

Some of Ireland’s finest musicians created a truly magic atmosphere, including members of KILA, Paul Noonan of Bell X1, Matiú Ó Casaide and the Crew of the Dreamboat. The families really enjoyed a night out getting into the pre-Christmas spirit.

There was outstanding physical exercise for Pádraig on the rings and using an expandable rope that he used for ‘rowing’ like an olympian. It’s an exercise you might do in a gym yourself. For someone like Pádraig it is still very special, something that not many physios would help him to do. Incredible but true. He will make this un-special, another ‘normal’ exercise for him to do.

And then, there was Pádraig’s first day of paid employment since his accident – about time, you might say. Taking into account that he is now over 30, he should really start making a bit of a living for himself, wouldn’t you think?

Sometimes, the world seems to collapse around us and we feel as if all agency was removed from us.

But then, there are times when we feel that we are not what happened to us but what we’ve decided to be.

Last week, there were times like these.

With a little help from our friends.