Imagine being an artist, a musician, and a motorcycle enthusiast with your life ahead of you.
Then imagine a sudden illness robbing your ability to walk, to care for yourself without the assistance of caregivers, or to express yourself through language. Your dominant hand no longer functions and you find your new home surrounded by "neighbors," most of who are at least thirty years older than you.
Such is the case of "Mike," a man I've had the pleasure and perplexity of engaging with during my work in long-term care. Since I cannot, nor anyone else, understand what he tries to communicate, I have resorted to simply mirroring his gestures and facial expressions, along with relying on information from his social history to tap into his psyche.
I witnessed a small miracle unfold before my eyes during one of my one-to-ones with Mike. During my efforts to connect with this complex individual, I suddenly had the notion to do an internet search for a virtual motorcycle ride. In moments, Mike and I were "traveling" vicariously through Canada, taking in the breathtaking scenery along the way. My peripheral vision caught his mesmerized face engage with the snow capped mountains and deep ravines as we raced along the rolling highways.
Suddenly he tapped me, drawing attention to the goosebumps on his arm.
It wasn't the only moment. He pointed out more goosebumps while watching a YouTube video of Three Dog Night, and later while perusing through the art gallery of a child artist prodigy.
Art, beauty, music, and human connection all in one setting. Love and belonging and peak moments in an unlikely space. This is the essence of The Golden Experience.
Below is a photo I took a few weeks ago of what I assumed is a coyote, but have since been offered suggestions that he’s either an Eastern Coyote (adaptation of a coyote, wolf, and dog) or a Coywolf (hybrid of a coyote and a wolf). I’ve also posted a second version of him, a little doctored up by my talented friend, Brenda Cox, to add a little holiday cheer. Both images give me goosebumps. :)
May your holiday season be filled with moments that give you goosebumps. :)