Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wanna Guess?

Life is an odd thing isn't it?

I was pushing myself towards the restaurant where I was joining friends for dinner. Joe had gone back to the car to get his glasses, he'd left them on the dash. I was enjoying the exercise that comes with the rhythm, push - roll - push - roll. I rolled by a group of people watching the World Cup on a screen set up in the mall. One of those watching broke from her group and approached me saying, "You are Dave Hingsburger aren't you?" I said that I was. She then told me how much my work had meant to her and how she thinks about her job supporting people with disabilities differently after having read my books and articles. It was a quick affirmation. I thanked her and we shook hands, then she was gone back to her group.


It was particularly nice because when we'd parked, in one of the disabled parking bays, we were right in front of a huge statue that sits outside the mall. The statue is on a raised piece of land and there are a few benches around it. On one of those benches sat a woman, maybe 50, who noticed me get out of the car and into my chair. She stared one long continuous stare as I made the transfer from inside the car to standing beside the car to sitting in the chair to putting the leg rests on to turning to leave. The stare was accompanied by a slow shaking of her head, in quiet disapproval. Her face was disapproving and judgemental. I was someone she disapproved of, deeply disapproved of. She knew I'd seen her, she wanted me to see her. Disapproval isn't worth it's salt if it doesn't flavour someone else's day.

Not nice.

My life often ping pongs between approval and disapproval, value and worthlessness, honour and hatred. But it doesn't usually happen so closely, one to the other. What troubles me, and I may be alone in this, but I know that in a week or two I'm going to remember one of these two interactions. One of these two women will stay with me longer than the other.

Wanna guess which one?

Because the answer to that question is one of the tragedies of my life.


Anonymous said...

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “let me tell you a story.”
I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.
But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing y our enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there were two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.”
The other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.
“Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the memory needs help. Pin the positive story in a prominenet place to attract your attention

Anonymous said...

I think this is one of the perils of being who you are: someone who writes about the wrongs for the purpose of making things better for others.

It does put a huge burden on you - you can't work on your own attitude, drop the negatives, and focus on the positives, because too many people depend on you to point out what still needs work in our world.

Thank you for assuming this burden, and carrying it so gracefully. It is a heroic thing to do. But it is expensive for you.


Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

I think we all tend to dwell on the negative feedback we get. It's a human being thing.

Isn't it awesome that you are so famous that people at the mall stop you! That your writing and teaching has made such a strong impact.

The woman who stared - that said far more about her than it did about you.

You have made such a positive difference to so many lives and I think that is because of who you are - all of you, Dave the whole package.

One of the things my daughter Cari taught me is this: One day, I realized that she was perfect just the way she was for whatever it was that she needed to do here. And then I further realized that if she was perfect in this way so are we all. It is not perfection the way we ordinarily understand it. But it is perfection. The hard part is accepting that about ourselves.


Ettina said...

If only those two women could meet - imagine what that disapproving lady would think if she knew you were an author and presenter who'd made such a big impression on your audience!

wendy said...

For me, at least, I feel that this is true because it is the negative voice that confirms my own suspicions about me. Anything positive rolls off as being "nothing".

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if the answer to my question is obvious to others... I just started reading your blog, Dave, and I've learned so much, thank you for writing it. But I want to know why the one woman was disapproving and shaking her head. Is it because you are visibly disabled? Using the disabled parking bay yet she saw you stand for a second? I'm just curious to know if standing for a moment is an issue for disappovers or not. Or if that wasn't the point.

Jeannette said...

I wonder if the stronger effects of the negative -- no, hostile -- encounter have some deep inner basis in our body chemistry, in our primal survival reactions.

About 40 years ago I was in a grocery store in San Francisco, where I lived at the time. An Oriental woman was shopping with her child, and as they got in the checkout line, I noticed a man standing nearby. He looked a bit like a street person, and he looked more than a bit drunk. And he was staring at that woman and her child with searing, unreasoning hatred. She finally noticed him, and pretended that she didn't, but I could tell she was relieved to get out of the store.
I was a bystander and I still remember that man's ugly stare. I think it may well be a survival thing, a recognition of "danger!!" even if the attack is not directed at us.

My point is that maybe you should be gentler with yourself for being so strongly affected by such hostility. I think it's not just maintaining a balance between reacting to positive and negative encounters, but your basic internal survival mechanisms responding to the possibility of danger.
(And I apologize if I've gone on too long, or been obscure.)

B. said...

I sure hope it is the woman who recognized you and left her group for a moment to talk to you. That is rather neat.

Anonymous said...

"What troubles me, and I may be alone in this, but I know that in a week or two I'm going to remember one of these two interactions."
Which one will remember YOU? The headshaker won't.

Anonymous said...

This incident reminded me of a story you told a few years back at a training I attended. You shared the experience of getting on a smaller airplane. The judging looks you got from the other passengers, and especially from one person were disturbing. But then the one person came and asked for your autograph changed your status with the others around you. I remind you of this because you are important to those who know who you are and what you do. You are respected by those who know your work and the person you are.

Ron Arnold said...

I choose the grays I live in. Some days they're nearly black, others nearly white - but the blacks and whites are always shades of gray . . . .

Nan said...

But I also know two girls who will stay with you even LONGER!!!!!

Tamara said...

I get so tired of stories like the good wolf and the angry wolf. They take complex situations and simplify them into responses that basically belittle those who struggle and admit to the struggle. It's BS. It is "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps" and "choose joy". One meme said to choose busy or chose joy. I cannot - cannot - control the amount of work that comes my way. I can quit my job, but I need to eat. It's really not an option, so don't tell me to choose to not be busy. And don't tell me that the only reason the angry wolf gets our attention is because we feed it. Sometimes it is just louder than the good wolf - plus the whole idea that there is only a good wolf and an angry wolf and that a good wolf doesn't get angry .... ugh. Just stop it - and if you don't have the courage to put your name on a comment, then the only comments you should make are those praising the blogger.

End of rant.

Ettina said...

"But I want to know why the one woman was disapproving and shaking her head."

My guess is it's because of the stereotype that if a fat person is using a wheelchair, it must be due to being fat and lazy rather than an actual disability. Which is ridiculous, of course, but fat people so often get all of their problems blamed on their weight.

Anonymous said...

Oh! Thank you Ettina. I was a bit confused because I was thinking of people who "police" the disabled parking spots and they try to judge whether or not a person is disabled. And here Dave is visibly disabled, so what's the problem? I didn't think about how several factors can come into play when public space is "policed."