Have you ever been seized by a moment of pure gratitude?
Not for the big things like, life, love, laughter. For these gratitude should be as constant as breath. I'm talking about a moment that is sparked by realization, by seeing something for exactly what it is as well as what it represents, and then being overcome by a wash of gratitude.
I have this from time to time. The first time I really noticed it was when I was driving to work and I stopped at a light. A man with Down Syndrome was walking across the crosswalk holding his girlfriends hand. I felt this immediate and deep sense of gratitude to be living in this time and in this place - I felt a gratitude for all those who came before, who fought big fights, who stood alone in the face of a shitstorm of protest, who came together to change the course of history. Segregated wards would one day become something more, something very different ... city streets and public affection. I was grateful, deeply grateful, to be there in the car seeing history ... years and years of history.
It happened again this morning. I was getting dressed and I looked up and into the bathroom. I saw a tall toilet surrounded by bars on the wall. And, in an instant, I saw it all. I saw the years of uninclusion and the years of unwelcome and the years of structural barriers erected to keep us all out. I saw the marches and the protests and the fight simply to be able to have access to where access had been purposely denied. I thought about what I was doing in this hotel room, getting dressed to go to work, to give a lecture, to be with people. In a town five hours by car from home. But it could have been around the world. People fought so I could have the world.
I felt a deep and personal gratitude for the toilet, the bars, and the people who fought for me to have what I have and live how I live and do what I do. I may, from time to time, feel alone in this world and in this life with a disability, but I only have to look at a cut curb or a ramped entrance to know that I am, indeed, never truly alone.