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How Wide The Heart Is, How Big The World Is

Disability has never prevented me from being a self-made person. My sleeves may be empty, but I am still able to master a happy life!

By BobbyPublished 7 months ago 10 min read
How Wide The Heart Is, How Big The World Is
Photo by Vladimir Kudinov on Unsplash

  Disability has never prevented me from being a self-made person. My sleeves may be empty, but I am still able to master a happy life!

  What would you do if you didn't have both arms? If you lose a leg, how far can you walk? What would your world be like if you only had one eye? ...... These unfortunate life assumptions were all encountered by the legendary Taiwanese painter Xie Kunshan. At the age of 16, he lost both arms and one leg due to high voltage electrocution and later lost one eye in an accident. Yet, it was such a seemingly extremely unfortunate man who became a household name and a happy star throughout Taiwan. His story was made into a TV series and the American magazine Reader's Digest has introduced his deeds and experiences to people all over the world in more than a dozen languages.

  Self-care: How to put food in his mouth after losing his hands

  When Xie Kunshan woke up in the hospital, he saw his mother holding back tears. His mother understood that the infection in her son's damaged limbs was spreading rapidly and that his life might not be saved. Everyone around her kindly advised his mother, "Don't save him, let him 'go' and forget it."

  "We have to keep him alive no matter what," the mother told the doctor. "As long as Kunshan can call me Mom again, that's enough."

  The doctors performed a series of surgeries, amputating Xie Kunshan's left arm from the shoulder joint, his right arm from 20 centimeters below the shoulder, and his right leg from below the knee. Xie Kunshan finally survived tenaciously, and his mother gave him a second life. He promised his mother, "I have no right to live lightly, and I will not give up."

  After being discharged from the hospital, Xie Kunshan once again became his mother's "newborn baby". Many nights, his mother's food was cold to feed him; on countless mornings, his mother did not even bother to eat breakfast and was busy helping him to bathe and dress. To reduce his mother's worries, Xie Kunshan was determined to earn a living. After thinking hard, he invented a set of utensils that could feed himself. He wrapped a movable sleeve around the end of a spiral-shaped hollow iron ring and put it on his right arm, then welded a spoon handle into an L-shape and inserted it into the ring sleeve. Xie Kunshan was finally able to eat on his own. When he gave a speech on campus, he often named this set of homemade supplies as "Kunshan" brand buffet.

  Next, Xie Kunshan gradually no longer needed the help of his mother or sister to brush his teeth. He first unscrewed the toothpaste cap with his mouth, held the toothbrush tightly on the basin with his short arm, put it in his mouth, and finished brushing his teeth by shaking his head back and forth.

  Xie Kunshan also made his faucet controlled by his feet to take a bath by himself. He invented many of these appliances to solve his problems of eating, drinking, and pooping. By the end, he was able to take care of almost all of his daily life completely by himself and often used his short remaining arm to hold a broom to help clean the house.

  The road to art: painting a beautiful life with his mouth

  After Xie Kunshan's accident, neighbors advised his mother, "Kunshan can earn a lot of money as long as he squats at the night market or lies in front of the temple." It seems that the only way for a severely disabled person from a poor family is to beg for a living. Xie Kunshan simply does not want to listen to these words, he said: "I have lost three of the four limbs, do not want to even lose the dignity of a human being."

  Xie Kunshan began to think seriously about his life path, and he decided to continue learning his innate interest - painting. However, the painting was too extravagant a hobby for the children of poor families. His illiterate parents naturally could not understand, not to mention the fact that his family had already incurred a lot of debts for his medical treatment. Xie Kunshan had to save up the pocket money his brother occasionally gave him to buy soft drinks, buy pencils and white paper, and prepare to learn to draw seriously.

  Without hands, holding a pencil became the biggest problem. Xie Kunshan watched his sister do her homework and thought he should be able to write and draw with his mouth biting down on the pen. At first, the pen contained between his teeth and tongue seemed to be a vise with a loose screw, and his mouth could not hold the pen, making his mouth water; after his teeth got used to it, due to the long practice time, his mouth was poked with a blood blister by the pencil, and his mouth ulcers kept coming out. However, Xie Kunshan never gave up, he just buried his head and learned to draw carefully, one by one. He turned his mouth into his most powerful hand, and the pencil in his mouth became his most intimate confidant.

  What if the pencil breaks? Xie Kunshan thought of a way: he found a small steel knife, the handle of the knife contained in the large molars bite down hard. To bite stable, he bit the handle of the knife is deformed. Then he pushed the pencil to the edge of the table, then pressed it with the remaining bit of his right arm, and used the blade in his mouth to sharpen the tip of the pencil, one by one. He cried out in his heart: "This knife is a piece of pencil shavings, piece is confidence. Xie Kunshan, today you have not only sharpened the pencil but also sharpened your future road!"

  Xie Kunshan heard that Mr. Wu Hsien San, a famous painter in Taiwan, was giving classes at the Academy of Fine Arts, so he tried every possible way to find him and asked to follow him to learn painting. Mr. Wu was impressed by his sincerity and agreed that he should come to attend the class. Since then, Xie Kunshan dragged his crippled body to the school every day, taking several bus trips and spending more than two hours getting there, rain or shine. The most difficult thing was the unspeakable problem of urination that could not be solved. He did not want to trouble his teachers and classmates, so he did not drink water from morning to night, and held back his urine for 8 hours at school until later he had blood in his urine.

  At the age of 24, Xie Kunshan took the initiative to move out of his parents' poor home and tried to live independently on his own. To make up for his cultural lessons, he practiced drawing with his mouth during the day and went to night school at night to catch up on his middle school level lessons.

  While he was hungry for painting and knowledge, he lost sight of his right eye in a collision. However, this did not stop Xie Kunshan from moving forward. He cherished the opportunity to return to the classroom and spent his days in front of his desk and easel. He slept at most four or five hours a day, jokingly saying that "less sleep is more life".

  After three years, Xie Kunshan was admitted to the best high school in Taipei - Jianzhong Supplementary School. His paintings also made great progress and began to receive international awards and recognition, and in 1994, his "Golden Pond" was sold for NT$80,000; his works were selected six times for major exhibitions, and in 1997, he won the Visual Arts Award from the International Association for Special Talents.

  Happy to help people: nothing is impossible

  Life is like chess. After rooks, knights and cannons are taken away one after another, what should be done? Xie Kunshan said, "Even if the battle comes to a pawn, I still have to persevere."

  Xie Kunshan has a big smile on his face every day because he looks for reasons to be happy for himself every day. Because he does not wear a prosthetic leg, when children see him on the road, they exclaim to their mothers, "Look, Mom, he has no hands." The young mothers would often put their arms around their children and say, "Don't say that, or people will be sad to hear it." At that time, Xie Kunshan would turn to the children and smile: "Children, I'm sorry, uncle forgot to bring out his hand when he came out today."

  Xie Kunshan is never shy about talking about his body and never hides in his room doing anything. With a grateful heart, he tries to help others as much as possible. No matter how busy he is, he must take at least one day a month to volunteer at Tzu Chi Hospital to take care of those who are most desperate. A woman patient lost her husband in a sudden gas explosion, and she was badly burned, her originally beautiful face becoming hideous and horrible. What made her feel even more painful was that her 8-year-old daughter, who used to pamper herself, was now terrified and cried when she saw her and would never come near her again.

  After hearing her story, Xie Kunshan said, "You did not love yourself well." Seeing the woman's puzzled look, he continued, "If this accident did not happen to you, but your daughter, would you be willing to bear this pain instead of her?" The female patient nodded vigorously, "I do! I am willing!"

  Xie Kunshan said, "I believe you are willing! Please look back at your mother who is standing behind you right now." Behind the female patient, the old mother who was combing her hair burst into tears. "How could your mother not want to go through this pain in your place? But can she?" The mother and daughter could not hold back any longer, tears spurted out like a breakwater, crying into a ball.

  When Xie Kunshan saw the female patient again, she was already like a new person, with a smile and a glow on her face, and was willing to work with him to inspire other patients with her still-sweet singing voice. Xie Kunshan knew that she had put down the "burden" and understood the truth: no matter what happens to us, we always have more than we lose!

  Xie Kunshan's resilience, optimism, and enthusiasm impressed a young and beautiful girl named Lin Yazhen, and in 1987, the two of them entered into a marriage. Today, their two daughters are teenagers, and Xie Kunshan was asked, "If you had an able-bodied hand, what would you most like to do with it?" He smiled and said, "I would hold my wife in my left hand and my two daughters in my right hand and walk the road of life together."

  Now, in addition to painting, Xie Kunshan is also invited from time to time to give voluntary speeches in schools, communities, and even prisons to inspire more people to set the sail of life. He said, "Disability has never prevented me from being a self-contained person. My sleeves may be empty, but I am still able to master a happy life!"


About the Creator


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