A few years ago, while publishing King Country Magazine, I chanced upon Sandra Longo. At the time, she was enjoying some buzz for her work with Navy Street Charity. I didn’t know much about it. Actually, I never heard of it before. But, there was something about Sandra’s Instagram feed that made me want to learn more.
Over the years, I’ve come to trust that feeling. So, I reached out and wasn’t disappointed. Sandra’s story is something straight out of fiction. Except, it is real. All of it. It’s compelling, heartbreaking, full of love and longing. But, it is also full of what some would call piss and vinegar.
Hers is a magic combination of innocence, vulnerability and more strength than Atlas has in his shoulders.
Every once in a while, my mind gets stuck on a word. Lately, that word is ballsy. Sandra Longo is ballsy. I love to sit back and observe her spinning like a manic tornado. At the heart of it, where it seems like there’s chaos, there is a well-defined and controlled order.
I love that about her.
Sandra Longo has a drive that won’t stop. The only time it takes a break is when she stops to wonders if she’s coming off as vain.
Maybe it’s vanity.
But, I don’t think so. I believe that in Sandra’s moment of reckoning, as she sat in that fully submerged car in the middle of winter, after it rolled into a ditch filled with icy water, she was right to think that there had to be more to it.
It just isn’t logical that so many random and unfortunate things could happen around her, for the sole purpose of observation. As humans, we have to believe that there has to be a reason for being here, and Sandra Longo is living proof of that.
Everything about Sandra Longo (and the rest of her family, for that matter), stands in defiance against the mere concept of helplessness and futility. These are not people to be pitied. When life hands over challenges, they hold together, deal and move on.
When Sandra promised herself that if she’d ever make it out alive, she’d stop waiting for answers and find her purpose, she meant it with every fibre of her being.
This lady was not put on this earth to live the life that she did merely to die in such an anonymous and unremarkable way. Maybe it’s because she has a way of finding the positive, or perhaps it’s because of all the difficulties that she is so keenly aware of how beautiful life can be.
She jealously seeks out opportunities to find people and things that give her joy and relishes the ability to access them.
For her, one of the greatest gifts a person can have is the ability to be mobile. If you know even a little bit about her story, you’ll understand precisely why that is.
That’s why she’s ballsy and not vain. It takes a lot of guts to strip yourself naked and stand on display as the poster child for the things that matter most to you.
Where most of us keep our greatest treasures and desires hidden, Sandra puts them on display so that she can help strangers gain access to things that most of us take for granted.
So, I count myself lucky to have made the acquaintance of Sandra Longo. I admire her dedication to doing what she can to make life beautiful for others by sharing the gift of mobility.
If I step into her shoes for a few moments, I can appreciate why she might sometimes feel insecure about the deliberate self-exposure. But, I have to thank her for her grace, calm and flex, as she works to create an environment of willful appreciation for the beauty that life has to offer.