Stef and I were window shopping at Lowes a couple of days ago and I started chatting with an employee hanging out near kitchens about tattoos. He wondered aloud whether Pinky had done my stuff. He was in a wheelchair and we shifted toward talking about disabilities. I pulled my pant leg up to show him my Gimp Membership Card and we launched off into discussion as my wife smiled and waved us off to go look at shelving. She knows me and my random 10 minute long chats with strangers.
We were talking about perspective and how many people who end up in chairs or get amputated struggle emotionally with it, with being different. He said “you know what man? I’ve got cerebral palsy. I’ve been in a chair my whole life. Sometimes a customer will ask me how someone like me ends up working at a home improvement store. I tell em (waving his arms in an expansive gesture) you see all this? I know where all of it is. Every last piece. I know what works with what and what won’t. They’d be lost here without me and this brain.
“And that’s the thing” he said as he started to turn and ride off like a Hawkings-esque John Wayne into an aisle 7 sunset, “people waste their time suffering over the lives they used to have and the things they used to do, when they could be looking forward towards what they have now and how they can use it!”
<Gimp mic drop>
I couldn’t agree with him more. For all of us, whatever we’re claiming as our handicap.
I think the most important element in these sorts of stories I tell is not that they’re inspiring but that they are actually completely unremarkable.
I don’t see myself as handicapped. In fact unless I’m taking it on or off or walking through a metal detector I never even consider that I have a fake leg. And I think that’s infectious.
I posted that high school teacher dance video this morning and it wasn’t until my third time watching it that I noticed the kid in the front row of one of the dancing student sequences rise up out of his wheelchair to more or less move in sync with everyone else doing it. He blended in. He wasn’t showcased nor catered to nor pittyed. He was one among and unremarkable. It made me very happy because *that’s* the point.
The ultimate goal to me for any segment of society that needs special attention to achieve successful averageness is that attaining it should not be newsworthy at all, it is so commonplace. Be it gay rights, brown people inhabiting the middle class or excellence in something other than sports or entertainment, women receiving equal access and pay, mental illness treated with the same acceptance as any other physical malady.
My goal is “so?” in the best of ways.