The Builder's Mentality
In the rescue helicopter, Kirk had two thoughts running through his mind:
- Am I gonna make it to that interview? (He didn’t.)
- Am I gonna lose those headlights on eBay? (He did.)
Kirk lost a lot more than gently-used VW headlights that night. The injury cost him motor function in his legs, torso, and much of his arms and hands. It also introduced him to a new kind of ride: the wheelchair. No amount of inventive, hands-on, mechanic-minded tinkering could prepare someone for life after becoming wheelchair-bound. But those skills and the many hours that Kirk had spent working in garages throughout his life had taught him to think about his problems in terms of possible solutions. He didn’t have to find them alone.
“My family and friends all jumped on board to help. My brother quit his job and moved in with me for a year, which gave me the ability to have somebody there to help with the tough stuff. It took me two or three years to be able to shower by myself again.”
There’s a lot of time, trial, and error involved with learning how to live independently again after a spinal cord injury. You need patience, an inventive spirit, and some of MacGyver’s tricks up your sleeve. It’s kind of like bringing an old car back to life. Slowly, you obtain the right parts and the right tools. Then, the right skills. Every motorhead knows, with enough time and elbow grease, you can drive any old ride anywhere.
This builder’s mentality was something that Kirk understood long before his injury, and it’s served him very well. It’s helped him take his comfort zone — made very small by his accident — and slowly obtain the right parts, the right tools, and the right skills to grow it. Piece by piece, he regained the ability to not only shower and get dressed by himself again, but to travel the world again. To live independently on the road, to navigate foreign countries in a wheelchair, and to take impactful photos along the way. That takes more than patience. It takes guts. And an unbreakable drive.