Saturday, October 06, 2007

Home At Last

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.


lina said...

honest discussion is better than dishonest platitudes.
Amen to that, I could not agree with you more. I have always preferred to tell it straight and have it told to me that way as well. Sometimes good, sometimes great, sometimes not so good, but told straight I can handle it.
Dave, for those of us who have had the good fortune to have met you, I can say that farts and all, I'm glad to have the opportunity always to debate openly and in the end, always manage to share a laugh. Great insight, glad you're home!

Casdok said...

I agree, honest open discussion is what its all about, we are human, and we have opinions. And it is intersting to hear others opinions, which gives us food for thought.
So please carry on being human, honest and open!

celticmystyc said...

I cherish my friends for their openess and honesty. Even when the honesty stings, I get over it and move on. Reading your blog (among others) reinforces my belief that there are more "honest, loving, mature, educated" people out there from what I see and run into in my everyday life. I recently stuck my neck out on the chopping block, when I responded to a "friends" email. Her email was catty, childish but it was "Okay" cause she was being cute. The problem was she, knowingly or unknowingly, lashed out at me. Her response has been so inmature, childish and unfeeling. She's gone as far to avoid me in public. Lesson learned, this "friend" can't handle reality or truth among friends. We are aquaintances, the relationship is only on the top layer. I, myself, preferred the bare honesty in a friendship and in people. Just use some consideration and tact....
Keep on bloging and keep it real.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Dave, I read you regularly. I shall be honest and say I tend to disagree with your viewpoint more than I agree, but that's why I read your blog. You're totally right, nowhere more do we need honest discussion than in the area of disability. So thank you, from someone who mostly disagrees. The way forward for us all is more of your kind of honesty.
Bendy Girl

Anonymous said...

honest discussion is better than dishonest platitudes? I think I might just adopt that as a motto. In a week where I have had to sit through hours of dishonest platitudes and hypocricy in the field of social care - den of snakes more like, a bit of honest discussion and respect might just remind me why I went into this sort of job in the first place.

But then again I am maybe just as bad, I say nothing, okay I don't lie with a false smile plastered to my face but I do not challenge. I'm also too much of a coward to post my name as well for fear of disciplinary action.

Thank God for people like you Dave who have that honesty.

theknapper said...

Dave, that's what means the most to me....that you're've made mistakes & then learn from them & share that. It makes it ok to be human & gives space to say "I screwed up", but it doesn't mean I need to quit my job, just to get support to make the change I need to make.I have learned so much from my mistakes & those of others. I don't like the process but I'm better for it.I hate going to wksps where the presenter has done amazing things....their clients always make miraculous changes & I think...don't think that'll work with mine....and it leaves me thinking I must be totally inept....or they aren't really real to me.
When we don't tell the truth, that's when we get into secrets & the folks we serve get hurt.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Finally, what we have all been waiting for...more fart topics!

Seriously, I have always found your posts to be depressingly upbeat (except that one about those British soldiers), and while I like coming here and reading them; I admit I feel a little unenlightened reading such polished prose done in a caring manner. More scabs! More picking of scabs!


Belinda said...

Dave, I agree that among the other blessings of growing old--such as the senses becoming more acute, not less--with age as you write in a later post than this one, one of the greatest blessings is the increasing freedom to be who you really are. I've learned that there is no sense in being anyone else!