“My bedroom had a balcony, and I thought of jumping out of it. In fact, I even told my wife about it, but couldn’t actually go and jump on my own,” recalls Girish Gogia, who was left 90 per cent paralysed after a diving accident.
As a young boy growing up in Mumbai, Gogia often thought of himself as adventurous. After doing civil engineering, he travelled extensively around the world, often taking risks.
But, a slight miscalculation during a cliff-dive in 1999 changed his life forever. That, however, did not deter him.
Now, 21 years later, Gogia — unable to even lift a glass of water — is inspiring people to never lose hope and explore the limitless potential of the human mind.
It was in 1999 when the then 29-year-old planned a trip to Goa with his wife, who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) — an autoimmune disease disrupting communication between the brain and the body — to uplift her state of mind. But, his own life changed that year.
“During the cliff-dive, my head hit the seabed, I could not move my limbs and I was instantly paralysed,” Gogia says. He remembers drifting to the shore from where he was rescued and taken to the hospital.
Gogia’s life flashed before his eyes as he found himself helpless in the hospital, surrounded by doctors. What they said to him, shattered his spirit. “The doctor told me people with spinal cord injuries, especially the kind I have, live out their entire life paralysed, as there is no cure for it.”
In the impact, Gogia’s cervical spinal cord nerves had been completely pulverized, leaving him paralysed neck down.
From exploring countries, handling projects, and accomplishing his goals, Gogia was now in a vegetative state, incapable of even eating on his own. “I would cry in the first month. I felt life was completely out of gear and I had lost everything. My physical body was a mess, my hands, legs, and everything else was completely shut down,” he shares.
Sucked into an abyss, it took months for Gogia to finally accept his fate. But, a voice within told him to not feel defeated by circumstances, motivating him to go beyond his physical self. “I was self-motivated and decided not to look back. That I was not going to regret what happened. I started to ask myself, ‘Girish, who are you? What are you here for?’”
Fighting all odds
An interior designer by profession, he went on to pursue his career. With the help of a drafter, he designed and even started his own company ‘Ambience Interiors’, completing over 15 projects after his accident.
Despite professional success, the ‘voice’ encouraged him to do more. He confided in his wife that even after achieving so much, he felt empty.
The voice within
“Something divine started happening. I kept receiving these intuitions and I finally felt God was telling me to stop designing structures and start designing human lives,” says Gogia.
In the years that followed, Gogia rediscovered his life’s purpose was to help people. Taking a leap of faith, he shut down his flourishing business 10 years later.
It was an invite to a Rotary Club in Mumbai by theatre actor Dolly Thakore that redefined Gogia’s next step. From then on, from corporates, old age homes, non-profit organisations to orphanages, Gogia went on to give free motivational seminars, encouraging people to look beyond and never lose hope.
“We humans have the capacity to face challenges and get to our destination. It’s so important to have a positive attitude towards life. If a situation cannot change, you definitely can change your perspective towards it,” Gogia says.
Despite his accident and personal losses — in 2016, his mother passed away, followed by his wife in 2018 — Gogia has continued to keep his spirits high. With his mission ‘Positive Earth’, he plans to touch the lives of seven billion people and teach them that there is a hidden opportunity in every adversity. “Downwards paralysis can never be somebody’s strength, it has always been somebody’s weakness, but because I am optimistic and always focusing on where I wish to go, I realised I am going to convert this weakness into my strength, and God helped me.”