Startled is the only word to describe my reaction. It was a bold move, I'll grant you that. We were nearing the end of two days of lectures in Newcastle. I'd asked for questions. A young guy, maybe mid twenties, put his hand up and I called on him. He asked a question from the day before - and I'll admit it now, the question shook me a little bit.
Let me explain. Thed day before I had spoken briefly about self esteem and disability. I told the audience about working on the radio documentary 'Life, Death, and Disability' for CBC radio. In the intervfiews with disability leaders, I asked the question, 'If you could take a pill and wake up tomorrow without a disability, would you take the pill?' I then recount how all those interviewed said 'NO' and gave their reasons why.
I'd been doing this lecture a long time, long before I sat in a wheelchair to do it, so I may be forgiven for having a bit of 'rote' entering into the process. This guy jerked me out of that rut by asking, 'What about you, do you ever wish you weren't in that chair, that you weren't disabled now?'
Oddly, for me, who believes that I'm fat just to make navel gazing easier, I'd not really thought about that, I'd not asked myself that question. I answered him quickly, glibly, 'No, I don't wish to be different than I am now.' He looked at me a bit disbelieving, partly, I think, because my answer was shallow.
But I've had the weekend to think. And while trotting about the Metro Center, meeting Nigel (kid in tow) for lunch - might I add that he was not in sartorial splendor himself - I thought about the question. There are quick and funny answers ... 'It's not as if I had to give up hiking and rock climbing.' That wasn't good enough, I wanted to really know. I do feel badly sometimes when we are going long distances and Joe has to push me. I do find that inaccessibility can be annoying.
But the question is about me. True as a boy I wished to be different than I was - but what boy doesn't. But I grew into me and I continue to do so. I do not wish to offend my maker by complaining about the quality of His craftmanship. I do not wish to tread, or roll, on a path other than the one set in front of me.
I was afraid, at first, that my answer in the workshop had the stink of BS about it, that it was my own Newcastle Brown. But no, I told the truth.
I'd not take the pill.