For the most part I'm content with my life as it goes. I have a good home and a happy relationship - Joe and I have weathered storms together and have come to a peaceable relationship of love and companionship. I couldn't ask for more. My work provides me with purpose and flairs of passionate reaction to both good and ill as I encounter them. I still manage a focus on what matters to me and on where I want to go. In many ways I'm lucky.
I used that word when talking to a stranger in the lobby of the hotel I stayed at this weekend. I was sitting by the luggage as Joe had gone to get the car and bring it around front to gather our belongings. As I was talking about my weekend she said, "It sounds like fun." It had been. I said, "Yeah, I'm a lucky guy." And I meant it. I had had a wonderful time. We'd enjoyed being with Mike and family and we'd had some real quality time on our own. It was a great weekend. But she looked at me, funny like ... and said ...
"You consider yourself (long dramatic pause) LUCKY?"
I didn't know that it was actually possible to speak italic. But it is. And she did.
BAM!! I went to memory. A woman I was working with several years ago was telling me that she had been talking to another woman in the grocery store and had the woman get all flustered when she said that she was lucky to have such a bright and happy child. She only realized later that the woman had been caught off guard when she described herself as being 'lucky' for having a child with Down Syndrome. "What I knew, she couldn't, that my child was a bright and happy child - her view was that Down Syndrome was the worst of luck not the best of luck. It's all perspective," Mom said to me. At the time I understood easily that one could have a kid with a disability and still feel lucky - because it's a kid's temperment that determines the parental journey - not the number of it's genes.
But now the Birkenstock was on my slightly swollen foot.
Lucky and feeling lucky ... what on earth does that have to do with disability? The woman I had spoken too had admitted to me having a horrible weekend in Ottawa. She and her husband had come to have time away, hoping that it would help their failing relationship. It didn't. She was sitting alone in the lobby of a hotel, near checkout time, not knowing where her husband was, not knowing what to do next. And she was feeling sorry for me. She was feeling luckier than me.
(I've learned to speak italic too.)
Life is attitude, man.
I could let bitterness corrupt everything I have. But why? I don't feel bitter. I get angry that people pull me out of my life and into their prejudice by their attitude towards me and my disability - but that's not enough to make me bitter. It's pure selfishness for anyone who is loved to feel bitter. It's pure self centeredness for anyone who doesn't live with hunger or pain to feel bitter. Who do we all think we are?
I wouldn't swap a day in Ottawa, wheelchair or not, with a man that loves me and people that care about me ... for a day spent standing alone in a hotel lobby wondering if I would end up my life alone.
So, ahem ...
"Yes, I consider myself lucky."