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  • Translator: Paola B Reviewer: Elena Montrasio

  • If your life were a book

  • and you were the author,

  • how would you want your story to go?

  • That's the question that changed my life forever.

  • Growing up in the hot Last Vegas desert,

  • all I wanted was to be free.

  • I would daydream about traveling the world,

  • living in a place where it snowed,

  • and I would picture all of the stories

  • that I would go on to tell.

  • At the age of 19,

  • the day after I graduated high school,

  • I moved to a place where it snowed

  • and I became a massage therapist.

  • With this job all I needed were my hands

  • and my massage table by my side

  • and I could go anywhere.

  • For the first time in my life,

  • I felt free, independent

  • and completely in control of my life.

  • That is, until my life took a detour.

  • I went home from work early one day

  • with what I thought was the flu,

  • and less than 24 hours later

  • I was in the hospital

  • on life support

  • with less than a two percent chance of living.

  • It wasn't until days later

  • as I lay in a coma

  • that the doctors diagnosed me

  • with bacterial meningitis,

  • a vaccine-preventable blood infection.

  • Over the course of two and a half months

  • I lost my spleen, my kidneys,

  • the hearing in my left ear

  • and both of my legs below the knee.

  • When my parents wheeled me out of the hospital

  • I felt like I had been pieced back together

  • like a patchwork doll.

  • I thought the worst was over

  • until weeks later when I saw my new legs

  • for the first time.

  • The calves were bulky blocks of metal

  • with pipes bolted together for the ankles

  • and a yellow rubber foot

  • with a raised rubber line from the toe to the ankle

  • to look like a vein.

  • I didn't know what to expect,

  • but I wasn't expecting that.

  • With my mom by my side

  • and tears streaming down our faces,

  • I strapped on these chunky legs

  • and I stood up.

  • They were so painful and so confining

  • that all I could think was,

  • how am I ever going to travel the world

  • in these things?

  • How was I ever going to live

  • the life full of adventure and stories,

  • as I always wanted?

  • And how was I going to snowboard again?

  • That day, I went home, I crawled into bed

  • and this is what my life looked like

  • for the next few months:

  • me passed out, escaping from reality,

  • with my legs resting by my side.

  • I was absolutely physically and emotionally broken.

  • But I knew that in order to move forward,

  • I had to let go of the old Amy

  • and learn to embrace the new Amy.

  • And that is when it dawned on me

  • that I didn't have to be five-foot-five anymore.

  • I could be as tall as I wanted!

  • (Laughter) (Applause)

  • Or as short as I wanted, depending on who I was dating.

  • (Laughter)

  • And if I snowboarded again,

  • my feet aren't going to get cold.

  • (Laughter)

  • And best of all, I thought,

  • I can make my feet the size of all the shoes

  • that are on the sales rack. (Laughter)

  • And I did!

  • So there were benefits here.

  • It was this moment that I asked myself

  • that life-defining question:

  • If my life were a book

  • and I were the author,

  • how would I want the story to go?

  • And I began to daydream.

  • I daydreamed like I did as a little girl

  • and I imagined myself

  • walking gracefully,

  • helping other people through my journey

  • and snowboarding again.

  • And I didn't just see myself

  • carving down a mountain of powder,

  • I could actually feel it.

  • I could feel the wind against my face

  • and the beat of my racing heart

  • as if it were happening in that very moment.

  • And that is when a new chapter in my life began.

  • Four months later I was back up on a snowboard,

  • although things didn't go quite as expected:

  • My knees and my ankles wouldn't bend

  • and at one point I traumatized all the skiers on the chair lift

  • when I fell and my legs,

  • still attached to my snowboard

  • (Laughter) —

  • went flying down the mountain,

  • and I was on top of the mountain still.

  • I was so shocked,

  • I was just as shocked as everybody else, and I was so discouraged,

  • but I knew that if I could find the right pair of feet

  • that I would be able to do this again.

  • And this is when I learned that our borders

  • and our obstacles can only do two things:

  • one, stop us in our tracks

  • or two, force us to get creative.

  • I did a year of research, still couldn't figure out

  • what kind of legs to use,

  • couldn't find any resources that could help me.

  • So I decided to make a pair myself.

  • My leg maker and I put random parts together

  • and we made a pair of feet that I could snowboard in.

  • As you can see,

  • rusted bolts, rubber, wood and neon pink duct tape.

  • And yes, I can change my toenail polish.

  • It was these legs

  • and the best 21st birthday gift I could ever receive

  • a new kidney from my dad

  • that allowed me to follow my dreams again.

  • I started snowboarding,

  • then I went back to work, then I went back to school.

  • Then in 2005 I cofounded a nonprofit organization

  • for youth and young adults with physical disabilities

  • so they could get involved with action sports.

  • From there, I had the opportunity to go to South Africa,

  • where I helped to put shoes on thousands of children's feet

  • so they could attend school.

  • And just this past February,

  • I won two back-to-back World Cup gold medals

  • (Applause) —

  • which made me

  • the highest ranked adaptive female snowboarder

  • in the world.

  • Eleven years ago, when I lost my legs,

  • I had no idea what to expect.

  • But if you ask me today,

  • if I would ever want to change my situation,

  • I would have to say no.

  • Because my legs haven't disabled me,

  • if anything they've enabled me.

  • They've forced me to rely on my imagination

  • and to believe in the possibilities,

  • and that's why I believe

  • that our imaginations can be used as tools

  • for breaking through borders,

  • because in our minds, we can do anything

  • and we can be anything.

  • It's believing in those dreams

  • and facing our fears head-on

  • that allows us to live our lives

  • beyond our limits.

  • And although today is about innovation without borders,

  • I have to say that in my life,

  • innovation has only been possible

  • because of my borders.

  • I've learned that borders are where the actual ends,

  • but also where the imagination

  • and the story begins.

  • So the thought that I would like to challenge you with today

  • is that maybe instead of looking at our challenges and our limitations

  • as something negative or bad,

  • we can begin to look at them as blessings,

  • magnificent gifts that can be used to ignite our imaginations

  • and help us go further than we ever knew we could go.

  • It's not about breaking down borders.

  • It's about pushing off of them

  • and seeing what amazing places

  • they might bring us.

  • Thank you.

Translator: Paola B Reviewer: Elena Montrasio

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B1 US TED snowboard life rubber laughter snowboarding

【TED】Amy Purdy: Living beyond limits (Amy Purdy: Living beyond limits)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/05/26
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