Dr Judith Guedalia

'Chaim B'Seret' - 'Living In A Movie' (Part I)

By Dr. Judith Guedalia and Chaim K. © 2008

Almost immediately on entering my office, Chaim K. begins with the title and says:
"You might ask why I thought of this title.  I have thought about this and I think the best way to describe my day-to-day life is to say it is 'life in a movie,' this is an expression of people whose lives are lived out in a surreal dreamlike fashion.


I think to myself, WOW, this is going to be an appointment to remember!  His opening remarks can be immediately understood as a double-entendre of his nom-de-plume, 'Chaim,' and his life - which, as a CSI (Cerebral Spine Injured) person on a respirator hangs on a thin cord.  (Seret=String/Ribbon). 
He continues: "I feel that I am living in a way that one might think is IN a movie script.  No one writes this script of life, only G-d.  Sometimes I feel it is a comedy; sometimes a horror movie; sometimes a tragedy; sometimes a drama; most of the time it is a VERY boring movie.  Nothing anyone would pay an entry price to watch. 
Touched, and a bit surprised, feeling a bit surreal myself, as I am in a "new movie" now, a crossroads as we begin a "new year of work" together, Rosh Hashanah is at the beginning of next week,  I murmur: "You feel your life is boring."
"Definitely boring. I live in a bubble; my own bubble."
I allow the moment, another empty bubble signifying of "non-conversation" in a cartoon, hovers over us and add: "What are the benefits?"
He looks at me a bit surprised by that unexpected remark, given the fact that he his quadriplegic on a respirator, locked into his wheel chair these eight years since the car hit him.  His 21st birthday was some months ago.
"My life has no surprises and that's a good thing.  Everyone else doesn't know what will happen day-to-day; I can tell you where I will be every second and every day.
Therefore my life is calmer than that of others.  Surely some "things" may happen which are unexpected, I could get sick, a flu, an infection, but this won't really interrupt the routine of my life; it might kill me," he smiles, "that won't be boring."
"The main negative side is that every person needs something to wake up for.  What's mainly missing for me is some level of responsibility, besides just staying alive, for me that is the main missing element."
He goes on after some thought, "It is a serious problem. Lately, every day is the same thing; I don't really have anything to wake up for.
"This saddens me, and disappoints me.  Of late, instead of staying in bed, in my room and not getting out at all, I try to find all sorts of things to do, but at the moment something very important is missing for me - motivation with a capital 'M'.

"The 'M' word is something you need in order to work or study or love.
"I've been thinking," (I smile and say that thinking is always a sign that there is a problem in the horizon.)

"You've got it; it's not only me who lives in a movie, I look at the 'Singles Scene,' and I think that they are living in an unreal world.  They are afraid to change the script of their life to something unknown.
"A friend of mine told me that although he has a girlfriend, whom he loves, he's not sure if it is 'worth-it' to marry her.  I asked him why. 'What if it doesn't work out?' he says, 'What if, after three years - I don't know, we have problems and we'll have to divorce?'
"So I told him." (Chaim winks at me as if to say, 'see now, I am the expert!')

"I said to him, 'First of all, if you love her and you are going to marry her, you probably will have a very nice life; everyone has 'problems,' but you'll be together and able to work out those problems together as a couple.'

"The Admor of Gur, said finding a person's mate is as hard as crossing the Red Sea.

"What does this mean?

"A person who marries has to jump in the water.  Nothing in life is 100% sure.  You have to jump in and you have to swim.  Nachshon ben Aminadav kept walking into the Red Sea, having faith as the water rose and rose, to his very nostrils, when all of a sudden his faith was rewarded and the waters parted and Bnei Yisrael followed him to miraculous safety.
"So too the singles; they have to have faith that they won't drown, they'll have a good life, children and stuff.
"Other people say they just haven't found the 'right person.'  They might say to themselves, 'Why should I compromise when I waited so long already?' I ask them, 'What have you done so far in order to find a wife.  Have you done enough in going to Shadchanim (marriage brokers), Internet sites, Shabbatonim (weekends) and just the old way of asking family and friends to fix you up?'"

(To be continued)


Originally published in the Jewish Press on October 1, 2008


Tags: Cerebral Spine Injured | Chaim K. | CSI | Jewish Press | Quadriplegic | Singles Scene