Christopher Nolan: an award winning writer despite being quadriplegic and mute.
What if your hands and legs were useless to you, just thrashing around out of control? What if the only way you could communicate with people was with your eye movements?
Could you still become a success?
During his birth in Ireland in 1965, Christy Nolan was deprived of oxygen and barely survived. For the rest of his life he would be quadriplegic and mute, and suffering from cerebral palsy.
After seeing this poor baby, one doctor predicted Christy’s brain would never develop. Even his mother said Christy was “gagged and in a straitjacket for life.”
But his family refused to give-up on him. To stimulate Christy’s mind his dad told him stories and read literary classics to him. His mother home schooled him until he was 7 when she enrolled him in a school for children with severe learning disabilities.
His sister played with him and sang songs to him.
Although no-one knew it, little Christy absorbed everything. Then when he was 11, there was a medical breakthrough, a miracle for Christy. A new drug was developed that relaxed his body’s involuntary spasms. He could now hold still.
Christy began to communicate and he stunned people with the power of his mind.
The form his communication took was for his mother to lovingly and carefully hold his head up in her hands, and using a “unicorn stick” attached to his forehead, he tapped a letter at a time on a typewriter.
Given Christy’s lack of coordination, it often took minutes to type that one letter. Gradually he and his mother mastered the process so he could put those letters together as words, then sentences and then paragraphs, as a whole new world of expression burst upon him.
“My mind is like a spin-dryer at full speed,” he would later write, “as my thoughts fly around my skull while millions of beautiful words cascade down into my lap.”
At 15 Christy published “Dam Burst of Dreams,” a highly acclaimed book of his short stories and poems as a shocked literary community took notice.
Meanwhile as he was writing “Dam Burst of Dreams,” he was removed from his learning disability school and sent to a traditional one. Ultimately he was a good enough student to be accepted into preeminent Trinity College in Dublin.
But he didn’t stay at Trinity for long. Christy dropped out after one year because he was writing an autobiography “Under the Eye of the Clock.”
It was published when Christy was 22 and it became a best seller in England and in America and it won the prestigious Whitbread Prize, a top literary honor. The United Nation’s Society of Writers awarded Christy its Medal of Excellence and in 1988, Ireland named him Person of the Year.
As thousands of congratulatory letters arrived and the media converged on their home, Christy’s mother proudly remarked, “He has shown them that life is worth living.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a wheelchair or a bed – it’s what’s going on in your mind and your soul that is important,” she added.
And Christy kept writing. In 1999, he published “The Banyan Tree,” a novel about a farming family told through remembrances of its aging matriarch. Once again he had a literary success.
But while working on his new novel, suddenly on February 20, 2009, Christy abruptly died at 43.
“Following the ingestion of some food into his airways yesterday,” his family announced, “oxygen deprivation returned to take the life it had damaged more than 40 years ago.”
Despite his severe limitations, and despite others at first believing it was impossible, Christy had made the most of his abilities and became a successful writer. He also lived a meaningful life.
He inspires us to pursue our dreams for there are no boundaries on what we might accomplish if we are determined enough to do it.
Success Tip of the Week:
Whatever passion for greatness burns within you let this be the week you act on it.
In the next KazanToday:
Is it too late for you to accomplish your dreams?