The doctor was the best in Manhattan.
He was renowned for his insight and experience and had great reputation in his field. His advice was clear and unmistakable to the man and woman who sat painfully before him in his well-appointed office.
“Your son will never function in society,” he declared.
The doctor looked from man to woman, confident in his knowledge, and continued with his cruel advice:
“Put him in an institution, and have another child.”
The woman stared down at her lap, opening and closing her hands. The man looked away, his face stern and angry, his jaw tense. The doctor went on with his recommendation.
“He is permanently deaf. It is impossible for him to keep up with his peers. He will never be able to hold a job. Who would hire him? He would be a permanent burden on you.”
The medical savant leaned back in his chair and continued pronouncement of his sentence with practiced finality. In front of him tears rolled down the face of the woman, and the hands of her husband turned white where they gripped the chair in refusal.
“Educating him will be a futile waste of money. His chances of having a normal life are virtually zero.”
I played quietly outside in the waiting room as my fate was grimly decided. The silence of that room was to be the silence of all rooms, all games, and all days. But I played nonetheless.
“I can provide you with a list of excellent facilities. It would be best to choose quickly, and move past this tragedy. His hearing loss is permanent, and the longer you wait the more challenging it will be.”
The woman glanced at her husband, who looked back at her. The sharp line of his English face bespoke the fury inside him, although his voice was calm as he stood and spoke.
“Thank you. We will make our own decision.”
Until the end of his life many decades later, my father would display freezing and disgusted contempt at any mention of that day, or of the recommendation he and my mother were given.
They left that office, collected me, and headed back to the shores of the Gold Coast of Long Island where I was raised and where the green rolling hills and estates are a treasured memory of childhood.
How preposterous life is!
Preposterous that the little boy who was condemned as helpless, who was to be shipped off to a miserable and horrific life of institutional existence, forgotten and then replaced, could rise above his fate.
Preposterous that he would master lip-reading until even whispered conversations at the end of a distant hallway were as clear and revealing as bright words on a page.
Preposterous that by the age of eight he would have the reading skill and comprehension of a college senior, and walk the halls of his private school each day with his head buried in the works of the ancients.
Preposterous that at the age of twelve he would be in high school.
Preposterous that by the age of sixteen he had left home with his diploma to chase after the legend of the ninja, and devote himself to their forbidding physical training of bone and steel.
Preposterous that he would attain professional success as a program manager in the field of finance, where his daily responsibility was to lead and inspire teams of men and women from all corners of the globe, and not merely support himself but also build his own family and raise children.
Preposterous that the little boy who was deaf and helpless would master the craft of writing and public speaking, and share words from the steps of public legislatures and bring tears to the eyes of hardened veterans as they listened to his ringing words.
It is utterly preposterous that you hold this book in your hands today.
You face your own utterly preposterous challenges, and you have equal power to leap through them.
Understand well that there is a difference between probability and possibility, and that the gap between may seem infinitely small but is nonetheless wide enough to explode an entire unexpected universe within it.
Do not fail to believe in possibilities.
Do not fail to believe in yourself.
It is how odds are ferociously defied.
Even preposterous dreams can be made real, my brother.
I am the living proof.
Let this excerpt from The Nine Laws resonate in you:
The limitations you preserve are those you will suffer under.
Snap them by deliberate choice, and live well.
Much love, honor, and respect,