Monday, April 25, 2011

Hello Future

Easter Monday this year is a travel day. It starts out with my annual 'chat' with students graduating from Humber College. They will be going off into the world to work with people with intellectual disabilities and I get to give them an hour's 'talking to'. I try to do a different talk each year, repeating only a couple of stories (the kind college kids love) and changing up the message. I do this because each year I go, I'm different than the year before.

Working with people requires growth and change. Being asked new and different questions every day about every aspect of what it is to be human requires ... thought, reflection, prayer. In listening to situations, in hearing the voices of those with disabilities, of the staff who work with them and the families that care about them, I find myself changed. It's like they come to me for solutions and in order to answer their questions, I have to ask myself to examine who I am and why I think what I think and what right I have to opinions in the lives of others. I have to identify boundaries. What is rightfully me and mine. What is rightfully them and theirs. It is so easy to mix these things up.

So when I sat down at the computer I decided to write what I wanted to say and then, and this is unusual for me, look at last years talk. These little events have their own file in my computer, usually I look at what I had to say the year before and  then change it up. But this year, I ignored the 'Humber' folder in my computer and sat down and wrote what I wanted to say. I did as I always do ... I thought about what I would have needed to hear if I was that student in this year.

Once it was done I compared the two talks. Yep, there were the repeat stories but there were new ones too. Yep, there were repeat messages, but there were new ones too. This pleased me somehow. I'm always worried that I will, with age, lose the ability - no the willingness - to grow. But, there it was, evidence right in front of me that I'm about to plow into my 60th year on this earth and I'm still trying to get it right, still readjusting my patterns of thought and still making stupid mistakes.

But the talk is written and by the time many of you read this, it will be given and I will be in a car heading west. I hope that those kids, for me anyone under 30 is a kid, will find some meaning in what I have to say. I know that I will get, as I do every year, a feeling of deep gratitude that these kids have selected - out of a thousand different opportunities - the privilege to work providing service. I still remember some faces from last year. I still remember the enthusiasm and the idealism in their eyes. That's the fire I want to stoke. That's what I hope will happen.

*     *     *

Many of you know that I am very, very, proud of neice Shannon's ability to write. Her most recent blog post oh hell no is a terrific read. More than that it is a challenge about responsibility and citizenship. Pop over if you have a chance.


H said...

Dave - I love the warmth and ordinariness with which you speaks of being human, which I see often sadly lacking in services!
And reading your honesty I get less embarrassed about my mistakes, though I am sure you can't make as many as me!! (HA!)Because despite all my best intentions, I have to admit I think I make sometimes as many mistakes as I ever did...they are a better quality of mistake, but there all the same!
I think that's perhaps the point though and I can guage how much I am changing by the calibre of my mistakes.
As I work in peoples'lives, I wish I could say that I got it right everytime first time, for their benefit. I am now however, very slowly (and sometimes painfully) realising that that might not be the best thing, for them or me. It's in the real discomfort of knowing I have fallen into a trap/ habit/ hole of old thinking or poor perception or service-land thinking, when if, and only if, I reflect on it...I can see a deeper level of understanding about myself and what I need to do in a situation. I wouldn't get that if I breezed through it all easily...would I?
I love the way your blogs inspire me to think and re-evaluate the world and me in it ...that's got to be the greatest gift to someone, so thank you.
It's a gift which the people with disabilities that I work with are extremely skilled at giving, when I pay attention...
and actually, to conclude - I'm growing right now - leaving a comment after a blog is a new thing for me! Enjoy your travels x

Belinda said...

H, if all who touch another's life had your humility, the world of supporting others would be safer and happier.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave

You mentioned in your talk to "us" the humber students about - where would we find the time to sit down and email you after a talk you have given.

Well, I wanted to find the time. So here I am in the libary at school... googling you so that I could tell you that your stories today did inspire me.

Thank you so much for sharing your life experiences with me.

There are many people in my life that do not understand people with disabilities. I am constantly advocating for the things I belive in and arguing my point to some family and friends. I just wish that they could all hear you speak, becasue I think you say it better then I do. Your words and message are inspiring and eye opening.

I could go on and on here... but I think I will just end with...

My most sincere Thank you


Shan said...

Dave, what a great thing to give students a rousing sendoff, from a disability/advocacy authority such as yourself, before they join the field.

Glad you liked the post...I vividly imagine evil people lurking around waiting for parents to be just that stupidly careless, and give them a chance to harm a child.

H said...

Belinda....thanks for making the effort to post that comment - made me smile! Cheers, H x