Wednesday, March 14, 2012

me kissing Liz

Liz Gilbert is yet another creative type from my Fieldwork circle. She has a bit of a story, to be sure.

I first heard of Liz at my first Houston Fieldwork session. I didn't know anyone there, but someone asked if they'd been to see Liz or heard any news. Someone said something about having been in touch and said something more about it being 'really bad." Several people shook their heads in that way we do when we don't know what to say to bad news.

Long story short, she'd been in a terrible auto accident and suffered a severe spinal cord injury. It looked like she would be paralyzed from the neck down.

I guess it was a couple of years later when she made her first return to Fieldwork and I first met her. She had an attendant with her, she was in a wheelchair (as she still is) and had uncertain control of her limbs.

In the, oh, five or so years since, she'd participate in Fieldwork or I'd run into her at performances. Each time, she showed marked improvement. She now attends Fieldwork without an attendant and if even she doesn't have full control of her hands, she takes her own notes for the feedback sessions. 

It's so easy to write really trite and cliched words about Liz. Phrases like "inspirational" and "indomitable spirit" come to mind too readily. I've learned long ago that such phrases don't quite grasp the hard work of not giving up.

And that's what I love most about Liz. Her "not giving up-ness." Because, honestly, she could have resigned herself to a life of "giving up." Instead, she researched, sought out, availed of herself of any cutting edge therapies and medical advances she could access. Through it all, she's continued to perform and write. To reduce that frustrating, tiresome, difficult work to a cliche is to not fully honor what she's accomplished.

So I'll simply say: I wish I had known Liz before her accident, but I'm very glad to know her now.


  1. Beautiful. for you and for liz. Known her before and after and she was just as much an inspiration before the accident! Crazy too!

  2. Cliche's are no less meaningful when they're true; it's just hard to read the meaning behind the words when they're used so often and without emphasis.

    I'm very happy to say I knew Liz before her accident, and she is very much the same wonderful person she is today, just wiser and still just as determined.

  3. like the people who commented above, I also knew Liz before the accident, and she had and still has that wonderful spirit,integrity,and love & curiosity about the world -- and has inspired me in many ways, both before and after. You are right in naming her "not giving-up-ness" -- it's a hard journey,and takes courage, hard work, and the ability to enjoy life and people no matter what, and keep following the story wherever it leads...