In the musical “Chicago” Amos, the abused and neglected kind hearted husband of an aspiring star Roxie Hart, has a scene where he sings a song of himself as Mister Cellophane. Outside of this theatrical depiction of an invisible man, forgotten and overlooked, there is a real life story that shakes us to the core, a shocking testament to the strength of human spirit and the visceral life giving force of wanting… connection.
As a young healthy boy Martin Pistorius, in a matter of weeks, quickly deteriorated after contracting a brain infection. He slipped into a vegetative state and was sent home to die… but he didn’t. A year turned into two and two into ten, he was still holding on – Mute, motionless, unresponsive, seemingly empty, a vessel just existing with no substance to it. After some time consciousness came back and he was well aware of all around him, he could understand, see and hear but had no means of communicating he was there – not a sound, not a tiniest movement. He was, for all practical purposes, a non-person, not human, just a body – too hard to take care of and too precious to put out of its misery because it once contained a son, a friend, a loved one… In more than a decade of silence and trying not to go mad trapped alone in his own mind, Martin decided to teach himself things alone, to forgive the words he heard spoken about himself and the physical abuse that happened under the excuses that there was no one inside the shell. An aroma therapist noticed he could understand and urged his parents to explore alternative means of communication. Today, Martin moves on his own in a wheelchair, can speak through a computer software, is an owner of a business and married to the love of his life.
Connection to others is one of the pillars of keeping you sane. The next time you choose to use the gift of language to swear, yell, blame and whine, take into consideration the opportunity you’ve been given to let the world get to know you. Being able to speak again brought Martin back from the brink of insanity. Hells are of our own construction. You’ve been given a voice, a chance to share, tell your story, listen, understand and connect with other beings – use it with dignity, take a lesson from a man who was(n’t) there. Someone somewhere is begging to be alive again. Don’t waste it.