I'm feeling like one of the luckiest people alive.
This is not an unusual feeling for me, I have it many times over when I'm with Joe and we are laughing. There was a moment, a couple days ago when we were in Vancouver, in the evening, in our hotel room, when Joe asked me how things were going to change once we're married, I responded, "I'm gonna let myself go." And then we laughed for nearly five minutes as we built on that one statement back and forth, with each other. I felt lucky to get to have this relationship and be laughing at full force 46 years in.
But that's not what I'm writing about today.
I am a wheelchair user, who flew to Vancouver, went over to the island and visited with family. On our way over and back we took the ferries and I got to roll around, unimpeded throughout the boat. I saw the beauty of islands and coastline and had time to chat with people on the boat in the way that strangers chat with strangers. On our way back we went down to the car deck early and I rolled myself to the back of the ferry and along with a few others sat in the sun, watching the present become the past as we headed forward. I had thought when the wheelchair rolled into my hospital room eight years ago that this was over for me. It isn't. It has never been.
But that's now what I'm writing about today.
I attended and spoke at the Inclusion B.C. conference. I did two sessions for them and then was part of a panel that served as a plenary session for everyone attending the conference. It was a panel that was about language, the power of language and asking how language should frame our movement and our future. It's an interesting and timely talk. When it came my turn, I rolled to the front of the stage and looked out over a sea of faces, six, seven hundred faces, and I began to speak.
This is why I'm feeling lucky. To be given the opportunity to say my piece in front of a crowd of people. To be seen as someone with something to say. To have a chance to influence discussions and spark debate is an astonishing honour. I rolled off that stage feeling so full of the experience that I was near bursting.
Later, when it was over, all over, Joe and I went out to a small place we found near the hotel for a tea and a beer. We sat together and watched people pass by on the street. We were both quiet. Joe, of course, knew, without me having to say, what was going on in my head. "A long way from the hospital room aren't we." I told him that it was. But that it was even a longer way from the hallways of the schools where bullies called me names suggesting my worthlessness and teachers predicted a future with no future.
It's a long way.
Many times in my life I wondered why the road I've been on has been so hard. I'm beginning to realize it's because the destination required the journey.
On that stage, in that moment, I realized that something else. Yes the destination required the journey, but the destination was worth the journey.
I'm feeling lucky for it all.
Every last bit of it.