‘HOW DOES IT FEEL TO RUN ON TWO FEET?’

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE - Text by Trid­wip K Das and pho­tos by V K Shafeer

I’m not say­ing ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble but you don’t know it’s im­pos­si­ble till you know what is pos­si­ble Nick Vu­ji­cic

Born with a rare dis­or­der, Nick Vu­ji­cic, best­selling au­thor and mo­ti­va­tional speaker, in­spires peo­ple all over the world with his ac­count of how he turned a life with­out limbs into a life with­out lim­its. Vu­ji­cic was here in Mus­cat to speak at the Global Lead­er­ship Fo­rum hosted by Smart Waves In­ter­na­tional on Wed­nes­day at Kempin­ski Ho­tel Mus­cat. Ex­cerpts from an in­ter­view with Mus­cat Daily

This is your sec­ond visit to Oman. What changes do you see since 2011?

I just flew in on Mon­day night so I can’t say any­thing about that, but I’m very sad to hear about the pass­ing of His Majesty Sul­tan Qa­boos bin Said. Hope is univer­sal and ev­ery­one needs mo­ti­va­tion from time to time. There are times when one chap­ter closes and another one opens and so I am happy to be here to try and in­spire peo­ple in Oman once again. And I’m very glad for their wel­come.

What im­pres­sions did you take back from your first visit to Oman?

I loved the peo­ple. They’re very hos­pitable, kind and wel­com­ing. It’s been a while since I’ve been here but I’m very thank­ful to be in­vited here when the world is go­ing through many strug­gles and tur­bu­lences but Oman has con­tin­ued to be a sta­ble and wel­com­ing coun­try.

But there have been other changes since your last visit. You’ve de­scribed your­self as prince charm­ing with bits and pieces miss­ing. You’re now mar­ried. How is mar­ried life?

Mar­ried life is amaz­ing. Ev­ery week that I’m home, we go out on a weekly date. We have time to­gether, away from the chil­dren. We love our chil­dren. We have two sons – seven and four year old boys – and twin girls who are two years old. I’m very thank­ful to be a fa­ther and a hus­band and I look for­ward to the fu­ture when as the chil­dren grow older, we are able to travel around the world. I would like them to ex­pe­ri­ence the world, meet peo­ple and sub­merse our fam­ily in dif­fer­ent cul­tures and set­ting and ex­pe­ri­ence the beau­ti­ful world that we live in. But they must also recog­nise the fact that there are many peo­ple in need. It’s not about what we have but mak­ing sure that we can give back to peo­ple who have less than us.

What kind of ac­tiv­i­ties do you like to do with the chil­dren?

We love swim­ming, play­ing soc­cer and dif­fer­ent games and watch­ing movies. As they ride their bikes, I ride my wheel chair next to them. We’re blessed to be in Cal­i­for­nia, so we love go­ing to the beach from time to time.

Is there any ac­tiv­ity that an able-bod­ied per­son can do which you can’t and miss do­ing?

Def­i­nitely. I’ve adapted many things, like fish­ing – I can fish on my own. I’ve also learnt how to surf on my own. But one thing I would love to know how it feels is to run on my own two feet. I would love to know that feel­ing one day.

You’ve pre­sented talks in many coun­tries. How many and is there one coun­try that you haven’t yet been to and keen to?

I’ve been to 74 coun­tries. I’m look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing Scot­land. There’s a lot of his­tory there. And a lot of the movies that I like – such as Brave­heart - are shot there. That would be an in­ter­est­ing coun­try to visit for sure.

In ev­ery cou­ple there’s one habit in one per­son that ticks off the other. What habit of yours ticks off your wife Kanae Miya­hara?

You’ll have to ask her be­cause it’s a habit and so I prob­a­bly even don’t no­tice.

Any habit in her that an­noys you?

No! I wouldn’t even try and… no, we’re good.

What’s the most in­sen­si­tive ques­tion you’ve ever been asked?

It was on a tele­vi­sion pro­gramme. The in­ter­viewer was say­ing some­thing like, ‘It’s amaz­ing that you can have chil­dren. You have no arms and legs’, and I said, I don’t think you need arms and legs to have chil­dren. That was awk­ward more than any­thing. But I don’t re­ally hold them; I don’t keep a mem­ory bank of them. I keep on

go­ing. If you hold on to those kinds of things, you can’t re­ally go for­ward. I de­lib­er­ately let it be erased.

So what is God’s plan for you?

God’s plan for me is to go around the world and sow seeds of hope, faith and love. To in­spire pos­i­tive change and em­power peo­ple with per­spec­tive, pro­voke thoughts of pur­pose-filled ac­tiv­i­ties in life and fo­cus in life. Many peo­ple have arms and legs but don’t know what to do with them. Many peo­ple have ev­ery­thing but still feel empty in­side. I try and pro­voke thought and per­spec­tive in peo­ple’s lives to have an at­ti­tude of grat­i­tude, to be thank­ful for what you have, and also know that if you put your hap­pi­ness in tem­po­rary things, you’re hap­pi­ness will be tem­po­rary. And I try help­ing peo­ple un­der­stand that there is a greater pur­pose to life; it’s not just about hav­ing but also giv­ing back and lov­ing ev­ery­one.

I’m very thank­ful to go around the world and share my story. I’m not say­ing that I’m more in­spir­ing than any­body else.

When peo­ple see a limb­less man smile, their thought is what does this man have that I don’t, what does he know that I don’t know, how can he be happy like that? And when they see the gen­uine and authen­tic joy and spirit for life, they are cu­ri­ous about it.

I share my story of how I have over­come my ob­sta­cles of fear, de­pres­sion and how I turned my life – if you will – from life with­out limbs to life with­out lim­its. I’m not say­ing ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble but you don’t know it’s im­pos­si­ble till you know what is pos­si­ble. I help peo­ple reach their full po­ten­tial.

I’m not more spe­cial than any­body else. We all have our sto­ries. Just be­cause I have a plat­form, I’m a speaker or I am well­known, it doesn’t mean that my story is more im­por­tant or more pow­er­ful than oth­ers’. I be­lieve it’s worse be­ing in a bro­ken home than be­ing with­out arms and legs.

When you speak, es­pe­cially with chil­dren, you have them in splits with self-dep­re­cat­ing jokes one mo­ment but then they are in tears the very next.

I guess I’m a con­nec­tor. I con­nect with peo­ple, whether it’s a big au­di­ence or a small au­di­ence. I’ve tried for many years to be the best com­mu­ni­ca­tor that I can be to en­gage peo­ple in my talks. To have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on the au­di­ence, at one stage of the speech they have to be open and vul­ner­a­ble. Nor­mally, in or­der to do that, you have to touch their heart first. Hu­mour opens up the heart. Peo­ple be­come more com­fort­able around me and think, ‘If he can make fun of him­self, then I can be re­laxed. He’s not here to make me feel sorry for him or it’s not go­ing to be a bur­den­some ses­sion. It’ll be up­lift­ing an in­spir­ing.’

Do you feel that there’s too much ex­pec­ta­tion from you?

Yes, from time to time. When I’m in public places, I can’t go incog­nito. So I have to be on it al­ways. I have bad days, days when I’m tired, when I’m in an air­port and jet­lagged, there are many peo­ple who want pho­tos. So I have the fear of dis­ap­point­ing peo­ple. I feel like the world is on my shoul­ders some­times. But be­cause of my faith and be­lief in God who has given me this op­por­tu­nity, I be­lieve he’ll also help me carry and sus­tain me through it.

You are ex­pected to say some­thing that will in­spire and mo­ti­vate peo­ple al­ways. You are, af­ter all, hu­man. Do you feel the pres­sure?

It’s be­cause I be­lieve in my mes­sage that I can say it. It’s one of the best jobs in the world, be­cause even though it feels dif­fi­cult at times, I get to meet peo­ple who tell me they have seen my videos and been in­spired by my story. That’s when I re­alise that what I’m do­ing has an im­pact and that is very en­cour­ag­ing.

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