Two years ago I read one of the most inspiring true stories I have come across in my life. I read it in Cosmopolitan magazine. Ever since I have used (and abused) this story as a go-to reference whenever I wanted to kick my friends out of whining and into acting. In fact, I always offer the story to anyone who’d say something along the lines of ‘it’s too difficult’ or ‘it can’t be done’.
Worse yet, a lot of people seem to use the word impossible these days.
So imagine my surprise when I saw that they were making a movie out of ‘my story’ that was to be released this year! That’s right. I’m talking about the beyond-inspiring story of Bethany Hamilton, who lost her left arm in a shark attack back in 2003, and after a painful recovery, went back to professional surfing.
You’ve probably heard about the story. And here’s Soul Surfer’s trailer:
I have not yet read Bethany’s book Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board (2004), but I watched the movie yesterday and it was everything I had hoped it would be. It was well done and had a wonderful cast. AnnaSophia Robb was great for the part. Even though she may seem too happy-go-lucky, she did a decent job of portraying Bethany’s journey overall.
Most importantly, the story behind it had enough power to shine through and touch every viewer’s heart. Think about it. Can you imagine cutting up your vegetables with one hand? What about putting on clothes or carrying groceries? These are small everyday things that we are used to doing without thinking. Bethany had to learn to do them all over again.
Now think about bigger things. How do you play music with one hand? How do you use a bow? How do you climb a mountain? Granted, those things may not be that important to you, but imagine that you’re a professional climber or a guitarist in a band? Would you abandon your career? Would you turn your back on your passions? Could you?
Those are the questions Bethany had to face after the accident. She was a teenage girl who suddenly saw herself as disfigured and undesirable. But the worst part about it was the fear of never being able to surf again. To someone who lived for those moments of pure bliss and chasing waves, surfing was not just a pastime for Bethany. It was her passion.
Most people would see the injury, match it to their desire to surf/play/whatever, and label it impossible to do. There’s that heinous word again. But not everyone reaches the same conclusion. Every once in a while, a strong soul would say ‘hey, it’s just difficult, not impossible’ and keeps working at it restlessly until they’re back to where they left off.
And those people often turn into celebrities because they are inspiration to us all. They represent everything that we think we are not: brave, relentless, and believing in our own abilities, in God, and in the support of those around us.
Bethany’s story makes me think that few things may be truly impossible.
If there’s a will, there’s also a way.
In addition to this beautiful message, Soul Surfer delivers yet another cherished life lesson which is mostly rooted in religion: everything happens for a reason. If you watch the trailer, you’ll hear the line: ‘I have to believe that something good is gonna come out of this.’
Bethany’s story on screen is an example of how bad things may happen for good reasons. Bethany’s courage inspired and continues to inspire millions of people. And it happened to her because she was strong enough to withstand it and find her way back on the surfing board. What is more, she learned to be selfless (by helping tsunami victims), which transformed her life into a miracle, just like her survival after the attack had been.
So Bethany’s reason was to inspire and to be a living miracle.
Be the example you want to see in the world.
We live in a cynical world. A lot of people shout that there are no such things as miracles and happy endings. They shout because they wouldn’t be heard otherwise. Yet, everybody knows that actions speak louder than a thousand words. The living proof is Bethany Hamilton, whose quiet persistence to come back to life and surfing inspires by the sheer immensity of its scope.
So you see? Miracles exist. And they can be found in life as well as on film.
Post-script: Spread the word about this miraculous come-back and show your support to Bethany who continues to help the world by competing and helping various charities. Check out her site and follow her on twitter. I did! And thank you for reading!
Also, for those of you who enjoyed this movie, I recommend Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (1991), which is as inspiring as Bethany’s story, albeit solely on the screen.