A Field Guide to Summiting Life

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A Book about Overcoming the Odds and Remembering Who We Are


Ten years ago, I began writing a very rough draft of what this book would become. In my hospital bed, the ketamine-fentanyl induced oblivion had me scribble unintelligibly about the lessons I was learning in real time: What really matters in life. How love is the answer. The loss of ego. That in the depths of despair we come to find Who and What we really are. These words would be revisited countless times over the past decade, but only now, ten years later and on the doorstep of thirty, do I feel like the words mean what I had intended them to.

Little did I know that at the age of twenty, I would have the proverbial veil lifted from my eyes. Prior to the world shattering event that brought me back down to Earth, I was living for the weekend, a boy in a 'man's' body - content with chasing fleeting pleasure after pleasure. This all led me down a path in which I had highs and lows, but no real peace - no Being. I think, as all people do, I was seeking answers. I was seeking The Truth.

I was simply looking in all the wrong places.

It was only from a hospital bed, immobilized, that I would catch glimpses of these answers. Sitting for hours, sometimes alone, sometimes with family and friends surrounding me, I would ponder what all of this was for. Why had this happened to me? What could I learn from my situation? Why was "I" here at all? What value would I be in this crippled state?

While the world around me continued to shift, I was frozen in time. I was watching people that I thought were friends depart my life, wanting nothing to do with me. Others would come into my life to become the best of friends, rooted in the deepest connection, years translated to hours by my bedside. I was completely open, completely vulnerable - shame no longer existed, and how could it?

It was then that I first understood that time is entirely a construct, something that when looking down upon it from a viewpoint of objectivity, you come to see that it is not 'real' at all. In the real meaningful pain I was experiencing, time slowed to a crawl. In the heart of real, meaningful connection - time flew by. The hours I spent alone would drag along until a friend or my family would come visit me, and then I never wanted the time to end. But, as we all know, it would - and I would be left waiting for the moment I would next want time to stop for but a while. I learned that meaning can be what you make it, that pain is one of the greatest teachers you will encounter in this physical existence if you allow it to be, that you can find tremendous strength in vulnerability, in being who you really are with everyone - no matter what anyone thinks. My ego melted away, a belief that "I" was not anything more or less than the Universe whispered into my psyche. I glimpsed Truth for the first time in my life.

I didn't take all of these lessons to heart, sadly. As I learned to walk again, as life resumed to "normalcy" after leaving the hospital, something went missing. I looked at myself in the mirror a few years after the accident, disliking what I saw. I fell back into my old ways, looking for validation externally, seeking pleasure that would never fill the hole. This time, I was trying to cover a wound that could never be covered. The 10 inch scar on my back was not the thing I was trying to cover - it was the insecurity with my new "disability", with the thought that in my state, I may never be loved again, that I was now worthless to a world that kept on turning. I would be left behind, as I had been in the hospital by so many. I set out to silence this belief, to prove to myself that I was still worthy. I was seeking to be "normal" again - what I did not understand is that nobody is actually normal at all.

We all try to fit in with the masses, but we do not find out who we are in a crowd.

I could still see that higher version of myself in the distance, but it seemed so out of reach, so very far away. It would take so much inner turmoil to get there, it was better to find short term solutions, because that would at least make me feel as if I was back to my old self.

But, my old self was poisonous. Little did I know that my injury was his attempt to commit suicide. I had allowed my old self to breathe again when there was no life left for me in him. But, as we all know that death is inevitable for all - and I let him pass in my mid twenty's.

I was given a Bible by a friend shortly after my injury, but I didn't consider the pages until years later. When I opened up the text I was flooded with realization. I had been an utter fool. I had been searching this world for things that I would never find anywhere but within, in God. I was walking alone, when I could have this entire time been walking alongside All. All that ever was, all that ever will be. I was in the world, and I was also of the world. It was a slap in the face, a pail of cold water to my existence.

I thought that because physically I was crippled, that meant my value as a human being was somehow "less". I was wrong. We are so much more than this material body. I reopened my writings from that life changing injury, and saw the lessons that I had learned and forgotten (or suppressed) come flooding back in. Those lessons, I feel, are my Northern Star today. My guiding light. And, they are universal lessons that you need not fall off of a cliff and spend months in a hospital to come to find.

Love. Passion. Meaning. Connection. Creativity. Being. Purpose. Beauty.

While some may recoil in the religious undertones of this book, this is not a book about "finding God". It is a book about self actualization, about finding what lays within when all that we have is right in front of us, all around us. It is a realization that you are capable of the greatest feats of imagination, you are meant to create, to change the world in your very own way. So many of us seem to forget that the odds of us being here on this pale blue dot are infinitesimal - next to zero - yet we go around as if this life is not the greatest gift and the most incredible journey. The most Holy of Experiences.

Because in finding yourself, you inevitably do find God.

You connect to the Universe. The Divine. All. Everything and Nothing.

It is all One and the same.

You come to understand that there is no end to this thing that we call life. That everything that happens has immense reason and purpose. You see the heights of what life can bring - Love, passion, direction, and the ability to Be all that you were meant to Be.

You just have to climb the Mountain.

Joshua Blais

Joshua is a personification of willpower and tenacity. At the age of 20, he became a paraplegic, not knowing if he would ever walk again. With sheer will and determination, he rose from the wheelchair, beat the odds, and is now helping others to overcome the most difficult of scenarios.

Over the past decade, he has built numerous businesses, worked to inspire others, recently become a father, and created value in any way he possibly can. His faith has only grown stronger in everything that has ever happened, and believes that for each and every one of us, there is an Ultimate Plan, found atop the Mountain of Life - if we only climb.

Joshua Blais

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