Thursday, November 08, 2007

Engaging with a negative

Keep Going- Winston Churchill
Keep Going- Winston Churchill

Just because my life is defined by my limitations does not mean that my potential is limited.

Global warming does not happen because we want it to happen.
Becoming disabled is not something that happens because we want it to happen. Sometimes it happens by what we believe to be an accident. However it happens, it provides in its devastation 2 ways of reacting. We can feel devastated by it or we can start growing from it. In nature, some plants cannot germinate until the land is either flooded or burnt to a cinder. I look at my disability in the same way. You can look at any personal, global crisis in that way. My disability did not come at a welcome time, it did not make life easy; in fact it burnt my entire career to the ground, it took my confidence away and created a life of limitations.

I could have stayed there, within my limitations, but I realised that becoming disabled did not change the person within me. It just changed the way others saw me, the way I thought others saw me and the way I reacted against that. I felt less, it affected me and for a time I became my limitation. I thought this was it, I would stay like that forever.

But when I realised that I was still me, that within me still lie the dreams and the potential that had always been there, I started to visualise a new life. There is no point pondering on the things I could do and can no longer do, when I do that, I struggle, I feel bad and life seems pointless. When I turn that around and look at what I can do, then there is room for movement.

Just because my life is defined by my limitations does not mean that my potential is limited.

I joined a class in tai chi because I saw the possibility that this practice would engage with my energy and in a sense enable me to work with the chi within me. The first lesson was pointless. I was in agony, I was tired, I felt ancient. While most of the people in the room were doing tai chi as part of a cardiac rehabilitation and in their seventies, while they moved graciously, I would sit there, with invisible tears in agony thinking I would never be able to do this. ( creating my own limitations) The tutor told me not to try so hard. To not do the 6 repetitions but to do 1 and then imagine doing the others, because with intention the movement and energy would flow.

Can I do intention, can I look at the potential within a body that is not functioning and stop defining myself as a disabled person? I know that some of my functions have been disabled ( but can be done by mechanical means such as speech software etc), but I also realise that some functions and abilities that were dormant are now starting to flourish. That is the power of a crisis, it can disable aspects that seemed important but that detract from what is the new important pathway in your life. ( Sounds deep but follow with me). Without my disability I would not have looked at the benefits of not walking, of not driving and using the car less. I would be too busy, to engaged in the ratrace. Reduced energy makes you look at what you can do with less and surprisingly I discovered more. The Families in the Coal House are also experiencing that hardship and no water, electricity and heat is giving them less and they are gaining in other ways.

Just because my life is defined by my limitations does not mean that my potential is limited.

What follows from that is that when I visualise possibilities, the resources I need to accomplish my task can be summoned and eventually what seemed impossible within a life with limitations suddenly becomes reality.

How can you relate that to the larger picture of the environment, global warming and a different way of living.
First I need to accept that change is possible.
Then I need to have the intention to bring that change into awareness.I need to face my fears and limitations, I need to challenge them.
When I am aware that change is possible I can follow through with the intention in a visualised way.
Then solutions and resources will materialise.
Then change will happen.

It sounds too simple I hear you say : to know where you want to be, you need to visualise the place, plan how you can get there and then give it energy and action.

How can I be grateful for having a disability? Loaded question. I know what it took out of my life but I also know what it has made possible in my life. I would not be writing without it, I would not be engaging with you without it, I would not be going to farmers markets, I would not have graduated without it, I would not be supporting bereaved families without it, I would not be singing in a choir without it and I would not have noticed that the toxic levels around us are reaching a high. I would not be wearing organic cotton, I would not be enjoying time with my kids, I would not be contemplating growing a small organic garden, I would not have learnt to can, I would not have rediscovered seasons, I would not have appreciated joy and I would not have tackled my limitations...but most of all I would not have discovered the authentic me.

Just because my life is defined by my limitations does not mean that my potential is limited. Neither is yours.

What is your disability? What will it enable you to do or to become?


Anonymous said...

My disability has radically altered my life, although I was able to resume my career six years later. It has helped me prioritize my goals, as my life expectancy has been greatly reduced. All in all, it is a blessing in making me more aware and conscious. I also must pace myself, which means I do not do things like work lots of overtime but come home to my family instead.

Downshiftingpath said...

Disability is a negative term, and not one we engage with easily. Thank you for leaving your comment. Pacing is the key.

Crafty Green Poet said...

inspiring post, thanks