Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

July 20, 2012

What Is Your It?

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 1:16 am

We’ve all heard someone tell us, “Give it your best shot!” or, “Give it your best!” likely many times in our lives.   Common phrase.   Simple as such.   “It” represents whatever the conversation is about.  Whatever the specific moments invite.

I was watching a movie the other night on the life of Ayn Rand.   Because I have such a ridiculously-poor memory, I can’t remember if it was a phrase near the end or part of a closing song as they ran the credits….Whatever it was, there was a line where the woman stated that, “Love is not to be kept.  It is to be given away.”   I loved that.

I’m going to suggest that most of the best is given in a lifetime, not taken.   Love, effort, praise, forgiveness, intimacy, trust, respect, hugs, recipes, advice, traditions….

Perhaps it is not a question of how important the things we give.  But perhaps, more importantly, is the designation of the “it”.  It is the recipient of all of your best.   What is the target?  Where are you aiming?

What is your it?

I believe that, at the end of our lives,  those who know us will know, too, what our “it” was.   Our legacy, the things we affected, the people we touched…Our chapters will reveal what we chose.  What we prioritized.  What we gave our best to, whatever our best was then.

Maybe the most important thing to remember throughout our lives is to check the “it”.   Reassess the “it”.   Refresh the “it”.

If we look back ten years, twenty, maybe…We can see what the “it” was.   We can see, sometimes with sheepish regret, what we made our priority.  The recipient of our best shot, our best effort.

I think that some of life’s most difficult moments are when the “it” changes without our consent.  Without our choice.  Without our blessing.

Our lives are the story of what we designated the “it”.   After brain injury, too often we have to redefine our “it” because our whole blueprint has had coffee spilled on it.   Someone knocked the half-done puzzle onto the floor.   Pieces everywhere.

For those of us who have suffered traumatic brain injury, it may seem cruel of me to ask us for more.  We have lost a lot, after all.  There is so much missing now, for sure.

But the livers of lives have the opportunity to meet the demands of those we prioritize.  Those we seek.  Those we love.

What we must understand now is that the “it” can be anything we choose it to be, as long as “it” is not the life that no longer exists.

Most of us can give away things that brain trauma cannot touch, cannot damage, cannot take:  We can give love.  We can give hope.  We can give praise.  We can give effort.  We can give compassion.  We can give forgiveness.  We can give advice.  We can give time.

What else is there, really?

It’s up to us to choose now what the “it” is.  What the “its” are.   They may not be what we chose of them before we were hurt.  In many cases, that is a good thing.   But, if we choose carefully and thoughtfully, there is not a brain injury that is powerful enough to hold us.

What is your “it”?   To what now will you choose to give your best shot?

We can give everything to regret, to anger, to bitterness.  We can give everything to people who no longer exist in our lives, to jobs we no longer hold.   We can give all of our best to a life that no longer lives as it did.   And, in that case, we are cheating the one that breathes now, waiting.

What is your “it”?



  1. You always make me think. I believe my ‘it’ is compassion. I am still honing it, though–as sometimes it comes in a mixture of frustration and bossiness… That whole “well, you should” thing… I am getting SO much better with this…but it takes TIME.
    Met another survivor last week. She stopped by my house yesterday. I don’t think I said anything really bossy–except when she asked me to ‘give it to her straight’ so I guess she wanted ‘bossy’ ;0)

    Thanks for continuing to make my brain work!!! HUGS!

    Comment by Barb — July 20, 2012 @ 9:18 am | Reply

    • I think my challenge to all of us is to find out what we will apply our compassion to. The “it” in question is the recipient of all of our best: our love, our compassion, our forgiveness, our efforts…If we gave all of our best to a job that no longer exists or a love that has left or friends who have moved on, then what now? What will the story of our lives reflect about this particular chapter when all is said and done. What will it say we gave our best to?

      Comment by karaswanson — July 20, 2012 @ 9:41 am | Reply

  2. Well said! My “its” I can give Alot more now are: love, hope, & praise to the Lord!

    Comment by kronkster1 — July 20, 2012 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  3. I can’t even remember what my “it” was before my brain injury. Now, I can’t concentrate long enough to figure out what my current “it” should be. I love your blog. I loved your book. I am almost four years post-injury, and I’m still learning to love the new me. Thank you for your help with that. You know even know how much you’ve done for me, a total stranger, and I can’t thank you enough. Sometimes your posts pop up on a day when nothing else made sense. This is one of them. I just couldn’t find the words to comment at the time. Thanks again.


    Comment by vanessaaleji2958 — August 17, 2012 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

    • That should say “you don’t* even know how much you’ve done for me…” damn it.

      Comment by vanessaaleji2958 — August 17, 2012 @ 3:48 pm | Reply

    • Hi Vanessa!! And you don’t know how much it makes MY day when people like you write and share their stories and we have a quick connection. We’re all in this groovy, leaking boat together but we’re awesome rowers and we’re heading in a great direction!!!! Thanks so much for writing. 🙂

      Comment by karaswanson — August 18, 2012 @ 1:01 am | Reply

    • Vanessa, I second exactly what you are saying. Kara is such an inspiration!

      Comment by Barb — August 18, 2012 @ 10:03 am | Reply

  4. Excellent blog you’ve got here.. It’s difficult to find excellent writing like yours these days.
    I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    Comment by cbs watch magazine — August 12, 2013 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

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