I think it was my favourite moment of the trip. Today as we drove from Chertsey, a London suburb, to our hotel at Heathrow I did as I aways do at this time each year. Four weeks have flown by we've been in 18 hotels, 18 cities and done 18 lectures. Images fly by, I try to sort through them and make sense of them. Many have been documented on this blog and I'm pleased to hear from home that some of you have taken the trip with me. But now I'm looking for that one moment that I'll take away with me.
The moment ... is about a moment.
It's about a change.
It happened during the first breakfast of the Paradigm conference. We'd taken over the Conference Center in Manchester and the breakfast room filled with people with disabilities, their families, their carers. A few suited types were staying in the hotel and were completely unprepared for the sheer raw diversity of the group who now poured into the restaurant. Two women sat together. I almost giggled as I waited in anticipation for them to look up, to notice, that they were now surrounded by those who were formed different, those who thought differently, those who related with difference.
But they were absorbed in their conversation. They were looking at something that make me think that they were preparing to do some kind of business presentation somewhere. They had an intensity that those who work for money manage - one that I don't really understand. But they were deep into what they were doing.
Then to my left a laugh burst out of a woman who snorted egg out of her nose as she struggled to contain the hilarity. Others from the conference glanced, smiled and glanced away, we who have the privilege of knowing forget that we know. But the two women were distracted by the sound and looked up. Their faces both registered shock as they saw the source of the sound. Then each independant of the other scanned the room and found themselves in the midst of a breakfast party. Talking, laughing, people of odd angles were everywhere.
Both looked down, not knowing what to do with their eyes. They stopped talking. They stopped eating. They stopped breathing. For a second I thought that panic would overtake them and they'd bolt the room. But they didn't. They went back to their talk, ruffled through papers, each glancing up every now and then. But the glances got slightly longer, they didn't stare, they were too well bred for that, but they took a good long look.
I knew what they were seeing.
Because I'd seen it too.
By the end of breakfast they were laughing with each other. Their guard had dropped. It was like they couldn't keep up pretense in a room where pretense was just not done.
It was like they realized ... in a moment ... that there was more, much more, to life than they ever thought there was before.
That moment, that discovery, revisits me regularly.
I am truly blessed.