What I know for Sure

'What do you know for sure?' Oprah once asked. As the survivor of a catastrophic accident this is what I know for sure....

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Clare Sultmann at 18 weeks pregnant with Oprah Winfrey in Brisbane Australia, December 2015

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have,” Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah speaks about what she knows for sure often. Indeed she has written a whole book about it. She has mastered the phrase in every sense of the word.

I first heard Oprah pose the question ‘What do you know for sure?’ in 2002 during an interview with the cast of ‘The Hours’. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore are the guests. Superb actors. Super stars. Super women. It’s a terrific interview and I’m all ears but the question ‘What do you know for sure?’ which Oprah poses to each of her guests rivets me to the television and suddenly it’s all I can think about.

What do I know for sure? The first thing I know for sure is that had I been asked this question years earlier my answers would have been vastly different to what they are now. Having lived through what I have, I know three things for sure.

The first thing is that nothing in life is certain, no matter how hard we work or what plans we have. Our future can change in a heartbeat, a fraction of a second, through no fault of our own. I certainly know that my life changed in that amount of time. Within seconds, my thoughts and concerns went from wondering what I would wear to work that day and where and with whom I would go out that night to wondering if I would survive the morning and if I did, whether I would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair with or without legs.

The second thing I know for sure is that life goes on. It stops for nothing and no one. My world and my family’s world may have been turned upside down yet the world itself continues. My life, although now completely different, didn’t end and the world goes on. The sun still rises and sets. It doesn’t stop for me and it doesn’t stop for anyone else. No matter how great the tragedy, how much press it receives or how many lives it affects, the world still turns.

The third thing I know for sure is that the human spirit can overcome any adversity. I have seen and heard about misfortunes that should have broken and destroyed a human, yet people continue to stand tall on the other side of heartache and heartbreak. Two come to mind when I think of the indomitable human spirit. A woman called Laura who suffered burns to over 80 per cent of her body from the attacks on the World Trade Centre and a little Iraqi boy who lost not only his parents and siblings, but also both arms during bombings on his home. The former lived for the sake of her child and husband, while the young boy, with the hopes and prayers of millions worldwide, survived his ordeal with the aid of prosthetic arms. Undoubtedly there are many others who have suffered and live to share their story. These people are the true champions of life. They are the shining examples of the indestructibility of the human spirit.

It is those three things that I know for sure. What do you know for sure?

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