Saturday, October 09, 2010

Yikes, We're Four

Today is the fourth anniversary of Rolling Around in My Head. It's been an odd anniversary. First, knowing that I was going to write this I waited for a 'blog to happen' and when it did, it was one that disturbed me, one that I knew that I needed to write, but one that frightened me to write. Second, I ended up staying in a hotel where I don't get Internet in the room and had to wait until I came down to the lobby to get connected. So, on my anniversary, I'm posting late, I'm posting tough.

I wanted this to be an honest journal of the journey of disability. I wanted to discuss issues, both significant and day to day. I wanted to be truthful in what I wrote about. Since I was 'starring' in the posts, mostly I wanted to be really honest about who I am, how I reacted to the world, how daily prejudice affected me. As a person with a disability that would put me more in the role of 'victim' of prejudice, not so much a perpetrator of stereotype. A comfortable role, no?

Well, I got on to the WheelTrans bus early. The driver was one of those who are not chatty so we just drove. At first I thought we were going directly to my office. Great! I had been out lecturing most of the week and had meetings stacked up. My first meeting was a doozie. I'd get there early and have time to prepare. But then, suddenly, we turned and I knew we were going to pick someone else up. We turned into a narrow driveway and drove to the parking lot of a large apartment building.

After waiting about 10 minutes, we were early in arriving because we were early in leaving, a person with a really significant, a really profound, physical and intellectual disability was rolled up beside me. She sat in a complicated chair and it took a long time for the driver to make it secure. I saw the time ticking away. Now we drove away. I knew where we were going with the other passenger. There is a day programme for people with significant disabilities well to the east of my office. I also knew, just knew, that we were going to drop her off first.

Traffic was bad and I noticed time ticking away. I knew I was going to be late for my first meeting, it was an important meeting, I had an important role in it. And. AND. I hate being late. We come to an intersection and here the driver will turn to go to the day programme which will mean that I will be very late, or turn to take me to my office. We turned towards the day programme.

I know with all my heart that she, the woman sitting next to me gently sleeping, has every right to be dropped off in the order planned. But it was really hard not to think that my time was more valuable and thereby think that I was more valuable. It was really easy to think, 'she won't even noticed if she's a bit late' and 'I will be really noticed if I am a bit late.' I shook these feelings off. I shook the thoughts away. They are wrong, I know they are wrong. But they kept coming back.

It disturbs me when others see me and immediately value themselves and their time more than they value me and mine. A woman had to wait for a moment when I turned my power chair and she was furious at being held up, her time, her self, had been inconvenienced by the way I move. I feel, actually feel, the sense of devalue that others put upon me. I know that the valuing and devaluing of people has led to horrible consequences. I know all that and yet I couldn't stop myself from doing precisely that.

When we arrived at the day programme, I brightly wished her a good day, and realized that I did wish her a good day. I saw her being pushed into the building and greeted by the staff there. The driver then took me to my office, where I was late, where things were in a rush, but where the sky did not fall, people were understanding of my late arrival, the work got done.

In the real world my time did not matter the way I thought it would.

But in my heart my time meant more than her time. My life took more importance than hers. I need to examine these attitudes. I need to ensure that I find that part of me, is it arrogance, is it self importance, is it privilege, that creates hierarchy with me at the top. I need to challenge those assumptions. I need to grow.

So Rolling Around in My Head is four years old ... and my emotional and moral maturity falls significantly behind that. But the best way to deal with these things is honesty. Even when that honesty hurts.

Like it does today.


Anonymous said...

Thank you - a reminder that I need to take to heart myself. As always, I remain a serious fan of your blog. Happy Anniversary. Gina

Manuela said...

Four years! Its hard to believe its been that long. I think what Ive enjoyed the most is the honesty like in today's post. We are all real people who sometimes waver, sometimes stand firm and sometimes fall down. That's what makes life an adventure and I am so glad you have chosen to share a part of yours with us through your blog for the the past four years. Happy Anniversary!

Heather said...

Happy Anniversary. Don't be too hard on yourself. We're all a work in progress

Anja Merret said...

Good article and painful but honest reflection. And yip, we are all so very alike when it comes to our self-importance. So one bit of comfort. You're in great company.

Anonymous said...

Someone once said to me "please be patient God isnt finished with me yet" That applies to all of us and to put it into context, Heather said it quite clearly "We're all work in progress" Thank you for for noticing this and being honest about it, something all should do frequently I believe. Happy Anniversary!!

Pat V said...

Thank you for the reminder. Your posts are always so thought provoking. Happy anniversary...and many more!!

Belinda said...

Happy Anniversary to a blog that is an integral part of ever day for me.

Today's post spoke to me, as it should have, by challenging me to greater integrity in my own life and attitudes.

Thank you for adding value; challenge; sometimes laughter and sometimes outrage; through what you lay out on the pages of Rolling Around in my Head.

Brenda said...

And THAT'S just one of the many reasons I keep coming back here every day. You challenge me with your honesty. If you can be honest enough to confront the dark corners of your attitudes, and brave enough to 'put it all out there', then I have no excuse for not doing the same. I'm a better person for 'knowing' you. Thank you, Dave.

PS: Happy Blogiversary!!

theknapper said...

It's difficult sitting with those thoughts and notice what comes up and make connections to your own experiences, not acting on your impulses, having space to notice what really is the consequences of being late and then share them with us.....
Seems like when you have a late blog it's a profound one.
Thank you and Happy Anniversary.

Anonymous said...

A brutally honest post today, Dave. That is one of the reasons why so many of us return each day.

Life is a journey. Absolute perfection is not possible here on this mortal earth? Rather, we continue each day and attempt (or not)to be the best "me" that we can be. It is continuing to strive towards that goal, and continuing to learn each day that really counts.
Happy Anniversary! DB

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another thought-provoking post. And Happy Anniversary. I can honestly say your blog has changed the way I look at so many things. I really appreciate your generosity with both your time and your story.

Jannalou said...

As promised, I am informing you that I'll be posting a link to this post on Facebook. :)

I think we've all had that feeling - that we're somehow better than someone else.

We compare our disabilities, we determine others' worth by assuming their abilities, and so many other things.

Thank you for the reminder.

Andrea S. said...

Happy Blogiversary to you
Happy Blogiversary to you
Happy Blogiversary, dear Dave!
Happy Blogiversary to you!

Anonymous said...

Happy 4th Birthday!
Who said that Dave...A life not examined....and all that!
love Linda (LinMac) in Dublin!

Lene Andersen said...

every time I talk about the hierarchy of value, it feels as if people look at me funny, not comprehending where I'm coming from. It is posts like this one that help explain it.

And it is posts like this one that keep me coming back to your blog, because you are honest not just when talking about the prejudice of others, but also in ruthlessly exploring and sharing your own personal journey, even when it doesn't put you in a favorable light. Someday, I hope I can be as fearless.

Happy blogiversary! Yours is an important voice and I'm glad you're here.

Kris S. said...

Congratulations on four years of a job well done. I am so glad your April Fool's Joke was, in fact, a joke.

On another topic, here's a link to a blog on bullying and being bullied I thought readers of this blog would find worth reading:

Maggie said...

Happy Anniversary!

Thanks for the wonderful directness of this post, and for the unsparing integrity with which you have shared your inner dialog about your own assumptions and privilege.

Anonymous said...

Thinking we're important can make us bothered and unhappy as we see that self importance challenged in life's events. Thinking others are important can make us connected and delighted when we take the time to see them. And when other people think that I'm important- i feel loved and proud.
Thank you Dave.

Emily said...

We are all inherently egocentric...especially within our own minds. When we recognize and try to overcome that, we are truly growing. And, as a friend reminded me recently, "If you're not growing, you're dying." So I'll pass that sentiment on to you. Way to grow, Dave! Happy Anniversary.

Liz Miller said...

Dave, can I just say that this post is proof that you are a truly good person?

You felt impatient, but you didn't express that impatience to your fellow passenger or the driver.

You acknowledged your feelings to yourself, owned them, and tried to learn from them, but never showed on the outside.

That is hard work. Give yourself credit for that.

Anonymous said...

All I can do is agree with Liz. Sometimes it's not what we think, but what we do, in spite of what we are thinking.


Molly said...

I commend you for posting this. High five dude.

Anonymous said...

Happy anniversary, and thank you for yet another great post.

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Happy Blogiversary!

It is your honesty that I appreciate. For you to take that daring step in a relatively public forum - makes it easier for me, with less courage, to take that step privately. Thanks for that.

I also appreciate the way you write. Dave, you do write a powerful story (story is not the right word as it implies fiction - your stories are real - non-fiction :-))
Happy Blogiversay!

Anne D said...

Thank you Dave. Your searing honesty challenges me to examine my own values and attitudes, and helps me to recognise where I need to make significant changes.

None of us gets it right all of the time, but having the heart, courage and motivation to recognise and do the right thing has to be a good start!

Baba Yaga said...

It's humanity, I think.

And grace when one manages not to act on the instinct.