Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Man in The Mirror

Have you ever stayed in a hotel room, one of those who for some reason known only to the Marquis de Sade, where they place a full length mirror on the back of the bathroom door? It's a bit disconcerting watching yourself poo. If it's a difficult poo, you all know what I mean, you end up looking like one of those dogs in the park, head up and grimacing while they try to shoot grass out their poo hole. Nice! A great view to have of yourself.

I was reminded of that while lecturing yesterday. I had a wonderfully welcoming crowd and was enjoying my time in front of them. About the end of the morning lecture I noticed that the hall I was lecturing in had a great big mirror right at the other end. I was up on a small riser and I could see, for the first time, what others see when then attend my lectures.

The guy lecturing in the mirror was a very big guy in a wheelchair. He made funny quick movements with his hands when he spoke. I immediately became self concious and glanced away from the mirror. I tried to control how I moved up there, horribly aware that people could 'see' me, that people were 'looking' at me. Somehow, during lectures, I forget that the audience is actually watching me and listening to me. Somehow I forget that I have to come from behind the curtain to the center of the stage.

What was interesting, though, seeing that guy with the funny arm movements in the mirror, was seeing how comfortable he looked, how stable and firm on the ground he looked, as he sat in a wheelchair. His wheelchair seemed to give him more presence, not less.

I had worried about lecturing in a wheelchair. What it would mean to me. What it would mean to the audience. I worried what it would take away from the presentation. But that guy in the mirror, his chair did not detract, did not distract. It only held him up.

Like prayer.


Belinda said...

Hmm, two kinds of "enthroned" perhaps? :) Thank goodness I've never experienced that particular bathroom view personally but it made me laugh to think of it.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I hope you will indulge if I post a comment that is off topic to your post, but relevant to people with disabilities (particularly in the US):

I've now written an open letter to Obama, thanking him for mentioning people with disabilities in his speech last night. The letter is posted at:

Feel free to circulate this anywhere you deem appropriate -- but particularly among Americans with disabilities, their loved ones, the professionals who work with them, and anyone who simply affirms that, yes, people with disabilities matter too.

"It is the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, DISABLED and not disabled -- Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

--President-Elect Barack Obama
Acceptance speech, November 4, 2008; emphasis added

Caroline said...

Full length mirrors in bathrooms, brought to you by the people who gave us strip lighting that turns you yellow and adds a stone in changing rooms. Fact.