I had a fun day today. I spoke at a DDNA (Developmental Disabilities Nursing Association) conference in Marlborough, MA and had a blistering hot audience. They wanted to learn, they wanted to have fun, they wanted to think deeply. Several nurses came up to me during break and asked questions that spoke to their willingness to grow and to challenge themselves. It makes doing what I do such an honour.
On the way home I got a phone call from a friend who is someone I met years ago and has little to nothing to do with the field of disability. We became friends over a mutual love of art, theatre and books. As the years have passed we have kept in touch, rarely, but always pleasantly. He'd called because he'd discovered this blog and read the post I wrote about being 'catty'.
I could tell that there was concern in his voice and I asked him what was wrong. He wondered aloud why I would have written a piece like that and leave myself open for misinterpretation or even attack. He noted that most people were very honest and very positive in their responses but he couldn't understand why I would have made myself so openly vulnerable.
This call struck me because today, one of the nurses made a similar comment. She said that she thought I was very brave to tell stories of failure in front of an audience. That, while she enjoyed the stories, she didn't think that she could be that public with the errors she had made in her life and her career. Why did I do it and did I ever regret it, she asked.
Then hours later my friend was on the phone wondering the same thing. I told him that I started this blog almost a year ago to ask myself questions about life as it really was, disability as it was really percieved and power as it really was misused. While I like inspirational stories as much as everyone else, and while I love chronicling the everydayness of the miracle of community living, I also was to be honest about what it is to be human and what it is to be in this world, a part of this world, a member of the 'troop' called humanity.
That all sounds grand but what it means is that I think it's ok to talk about 'farting' if 'farting' has a point. I think it's ok to be honest about making remarks about others in a mall. I think that this kind of reality sparks interesting comments. I enjoyed reading all the comments to that post, even the person who thinks I'm a sad specimen. That's OK. It's discussion. It's people thinking. I was gratified to have so much chatter about something that was bigger than catty remarks, it was about prejudice and all the forms that it takes.
I told my friend about my audience today. About how daring to be 'real' about the issues and 'honest' about my failings, took the subject matter to a level that mattered. We all laughed, at me, at ourselves, at the silliness of being human.
That's why I lecture.
That's why I write this blog.
I know that there are those who won't like my point of view, I know there will be the occasional feedback sheet from my lecture today chastizing me for something I said, for how I said it, or for being a bit irreverent. That's OK, I know that's part of the gig.
As I'm over 50, I've decided that honest discussion is better than dishonest platitudes.
Thank God for getting older.
I may not be wiser, but feet have definately touched ground.
And that's exactly where I want to be.