Thursday, January 29, 2009


So the interview is all set up and I'm nervous as a cat. I've done a billion interviews over the last several years, on camera, on tape, on notepad. While I get nervous in front of an audience, I've never really been nervous in front of an interviewer. I know I know what I'm talking about. I'm confident in what I have to say. I'm pleased that I get a chance to say it. So, no problem.

But I got an email the other day from some guy in Alberta who writes for a magazine that covers a large region that includes the town I was born in, the town where I grew up and the town where I have relatives on both sides of the family. Apparently he's looking to do an article on people from the region who went on to some kind of international success in their chosen fields. And he picked me as one such subject.

This is way cool.

Small town boy hits it big.

I told him that he could send me some questions and I could jot down some answers but he wanted to do the thing live, so we've set an appointment to talk next week. I don't know how he found me, what he knows of my work, or what he really wants to talk about. When I realized that for the first time the interview was going to be about 'me' not about abuse, or sexuality, or disability, or self advocacy or any of the things that I know about, I got nervous. I'm not so confident on the 'me' front.

What's there really to say?

I'm not being falsely modest here but really, what's there to say? I live in Toronto, in an apartment. Most days I go to work at Vita, other days (like tomorrow) I travel internationally and speak. I write blogs and I write books. I like cooking and walks along the beach (actually I hate the beach, sand and fat people don't mix, well they mix but sand keeps reappearing in odd and unpleasant places for months and months). I don't want to talk about those things, I want to talk about prejudice and progress, about advocacy and awareness, about rights and responsibilities. That's what's interesting.

For many people that knew me then, though, all this will be such a surprise. I was the 'little engine that couldn't, wouldn't, won't'. Little was expected. Little was predicted. Nothing was hoped for. Maybe that's what I need to say. I need to remind parents and teachers to look at those in their care again, those that they've written off, those that they feel are destined to failure. Maybe they need to look deep into the eyes of the kids at the back of the class, the kids that live in the cold room in the basement of a parent's heart. And when they look there, prepare to see something more - potential (waiting).


wendy said...

Good luck with the interview, Dave! How very cool. I'm sure you'll find ways to weave wisdom into your answers and convey the message you want to convey. You always do! Where can we read the article once it's written??

Belinda said...

Maybe the truth is that there is a purpose for each and every life. Some may be chosen to shine on a stage and some in a quiet corner. Neither is more or less important. You were infinitely important as that little boy in whom no one saw promise, whether anyone saw it or not and whether or not you were called to be famous. The great blessing is that your promise blossomed in spite of the blindness of those around you. You heard the promise somewhere deep within and along the way, others did call it forth. I know many great people who will never be famous in the way that you are, but they are all "fearfully and wonderfully made."
I guess my point is that you would have been "a local boy who made it" no matter what you were doing, as long as you knew in your core that just being alive and following your purpoae is what it is about.
Sorry, I think I went off on a tangent.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I'm with Wendy and Belinda!

I have met people who grew up being underestimated by pretty much everyone around them except for perhaps one or two people who loved and encouraged them. In one case, I don't know what her old classmates and teachers think (if they know), but I know she has gone on to earn a masters degree in education and last I heard was a teacher striving to give the kind of encouragement to her students that she wished she had received more of herself. In the other case, I knew him while he was still an undergraduate student--clearly intelligent and doing well, but too young to have accomplished much yet. But his old classmates and teachers apparently were astonished to learn that he had gone on to college. Apparently they had never expected that of him.

In both of these cases, these people were underestimated apparently because of a combination of racism and disableism (they are both people of color with disabilities). But I suppose that's similar in certain ways to being underestimated for other reasons, like you were. And I do wonder sometimes if their former teachers learned the right lessons from them and their success, if they learned to give some of the kids in their own care today more of a chance.

I'm sure you'll do great. Do give us the URL link to the story when it's published!

E said...

Good luck Dave!

Perhaps it is because little was expected that so much was given?

Funny how things tie together.

I forwarded a link to your blog about Molly the horse to a non-verbal gentleman who recieves assistance from the local "developmental service" agency. This man utilizes facilitated communication, and loves e-mail. He's had more than one opportunity to attend your workshops on various topics.

After he read the blog he wrote me back "Well I really think david gets the real truth in what people really would like around services they want to recieve."

I don't think that you should forget to include this part about yourself Dave. I'd agree, and there was somthing about who you are, where you grew up, and your perceptions about yourself and the world that got you there!

Go gently,


FridaWrites said...

Don't be nervous--you'll do great! And much of what you do is about your work with disability. You have a great perspective and a great spirit and that's going to come through no matter what you talk about.

Shan said...

Good luck Dave, and I'm glad you will get to talk about yourself. I bet there are people around there who remember you and sometimes wonder whatever happened to that kid!

liz said...

Sounds like you have a great spring-board there! Good luck with the interview!

Marilyn said...

"And when they look there, prepare to see more..." LOVE IT! It's most definitely the way to approach all people.

I hope you end up DELIGHTED at the outcome of the interview.