I’m no stranger to being disabled. I’ve had hip replacements and arthroscopic knee surgery. And here I sit with a broken arm after having fallen off my bicycle a few weeks ago. Aren’t I too old to fall off my bicycle? Isn’t that a “kid” thing? Apparently not. Most of the time, like most of you, I imagine, I whiz through the day completing one task after another until the day is done, when I sit and think, “Where did the day go?” I look at people, they look at me, and we all go on about our business. When you’re disabled you undergo a mind shift and an increase in your visual acuity.
When you are healthy and move around the world with ease, you hurry from one activity to the next, often not really being present in the moment. Teach a class, go to the dentist, and work out at the gym…not enough hours in the day. You go through the day checking items off your list: pay the bills, grade the essays, water the plants, call the insurance company, etc. And at the end of the day you feel a sense of accomplishment. Job well done. I accomplished a lot, so my life had meaning and purpose today.
When you are disabled, life slows way down. It has to. You can’t hurry from one activity to the next. You creep from one activity to the next. Your world shrinks. A walk with the dog that usually you sail through in 20 minutes now takes twice as long. Daily hygiene activities like washing your hair are now monumental tasks. You notice things too, like the ladybug on the roses, the bees on the hydrangea, and how the eucalyptus tree sways in the wind. It’s like having magnified vision, like Super Man or a three year old wandering around the back yard for the first time, in a state of wonder. You notice everything. Nothing gets by you. While in the past I sat in my den and gazed out the window thinking about what I would do next, now I stare out the window and just marvel at the beauty of the oranges on the tree and the lemons lying on the ground. I smell the roses, so to speak. I enjoy the moment I’m in now. I look. I listen. Intently. I’m not in a hurry. And isn’t that what we should all be doing anyway?
So while I would not wish a broken arm on anyone, it hurts, I am enjoying my new “eyes,” my new perceptiveness. Surely this can be attained sans bicycle accidents!
Causes Patricia Thomas Supports
Room to Read, UNICEF, Kiva, Save the Children, Pencils of Promise