It took me by surprise, my disability did.
I know that most non-disabled people figure that I'm disabled all the time. And I guess in a way I am, but also, in away, I'm not. I mean I can go for whole days without realizing, 'Oh, yeah, I'm disabled.'
So yesterday I arrived at work, I had interviews to do and things to prepare so my mind was firmly set on getting started. I had arrived early, by design, rolled into the building and up to the elevator. It wasn't working. I sat there as my disability came crashing down on me, 'Oh, yeah, I'm a cripple.'
You see I live in my body and I have adapted my life around me and what I can and can't do. I have reachers for dressing and picking things up. I have bars and grips for getting up and getting down. I have raised furniture that enables me to relax without worry about rising. So, in the end, I don't think about my disability much at all.
But then ... an elevator will be down and suddenly I am keenly aware of my difference, my disability. In this case, I simply panicked. I called the receptionist, a lovely woman, and said, 'I'm downstairs, the elevator isn't working, what do I do?' She was kindly but I didn't want kind, I wanted magical. I wanted her to wave a wand and the elevator would work.
And maybe that's what happened because suddenly the elevator made it's way down from the 2nd floor and opened in front of me. I got on, rode up praying ... knowing that with every second I was getting closer to God's ear ... the door opened and I was out. Suddenly, disability lifted off my shoulders and I set about my day again.
I imagine that it's this was for people of all differences and all diversities ... that what makes you different makes it's way to your consciousness only every now and then. That the world sees you differently all the time but you know the secret - difference visits you, it doesn't live with you.
So I'm back to being fully able.
And next time I see Aneta, the receptionist I'm going to see if she has a wand anywhere near her desk.
I love how you make the separation between visiting and living with you. A very important distinction.
Getting UP is one thing, being trapped at the top and not able to get down is another. My job lost power in the building when it was time to leave, and I was trapped for two hours before they got power back again. For an hour of that, I was alone and freaking out about what to do if there was a fire. The building management told me that I wasn't allowed to try and walk down on my own.
When it happened again two weeks later, I insisted they call the fire department.. who carried down my chair, while I walked down myself. There were hand rails on both sides and I knew I could get down, but if I had left the chair at the top, I couldn't have gotten out of the stairwell and out the building. Thank goodness I don't work in that building any more.
"difference visits you, it doesn't live with you"
Love this. A great thought to keep in mind when attempting to put ourselves in others' shoes. What may be obvious to us, may be only a passing thought to them.
I learn something new every day, often from you. Thanks, Dave.
I agree--I can often forget how I'm moving until other people or an obstacle reminds me--even then, obstacles become more second nature.
"difference visits you, it doesn't live with you"...what a brilliant observation!
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