My conversation with international para-swimming champion and DGM, CTS Research Centre, Justin Vijay Jesudas, for my ‘The Happiness Road’ Series that appears in DT Next every Sunday. Read the conversation on the DT Next page here. ‘The Happiness Road’ is also my next Book. Photo Credit: Vinodh Velayudhan
“My happiness is eternal”
Two qualities in Justin Vijay Jesudas strike you when you meet him. Self-confidence and equanimity. Those are the reasons why Justin’s been able to pick up the threads of his Life after a car accident left him paralyzed neck-below in 2009. He’s a wheel-chair user alright, but he lives a full Life – he drives a customized car, he wins medals at international Paralympic swimming championships and at national rifle-shooting events, he surfs and he’s always beaming his electrifying smile! I seek to know the secret of his persevering spirit and positivity. “After the accident, when the prognosis reported that I wouldn’t be able to walk, I never asked ‘why me’. I simply got down to training myself to walk. But 18 months later, I decided that let me not try and control what I can’t. Instead I focused on what I could control. My shoulders were strong, my elbows and wrists worked partially, so I adapted myself to driving, swimming and shooting. I chose to be happy with what I could do instead of complaining about what I could not,” says Justin.
Despite keeping a day job how does he manage to find time to do all the other things he does? “The accident reminded me that all we have is one Life. So I decided that it is only in this lifetime that we have to do all that we want to do. It’s not the medals and accolades that excite me. It is the joy of being able to compete at an international level, it is the journey, of going out and giving Life your best, that makes me happy! I believe I may not have been so ‘alive’ had it not been for the accident and my disability,” explains Justin.
Doesn’t he ever grieve over what has happened to him? He confesses that he does feel grief, but only fleetingly – it doesn’t linger for too long. “My happiness is eternal. I see emotions such as grief or reasoning with the fate theory as a complete waste of time. I have faith in myself and I believe in enjoying each moment. And I know, as long as I am moving, feeling content with what is, the possibilities are immense,” says Justin.
Life may have dealt him a debilitating spinal cord injury, but Justin’s ensured that it hasn’t crushed his spirit or taken away his happiness! Bravo!!