Be the light that within you shines.
A Time For Change ( June 2013)
No I am not talking about changing your politics or changing your underwear . . . although . . . never mind. I am talking about changing attitudes. Not everyone has a problem with people who are different, just a notable minority. That process of changing their attitudes is on going and never ending. Where we can make a huge difference is in ourselves, our attitudes. Yes we are ambassadors for everyone in a wheelchair but we are also ambassadors to ourselves.
I have often joked that the legs at the end of my hips weren’t mine. They certainly were not acting like we had any kind of relationship. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t stand and if I wanted to move my foot I had to use my hands to do it. Ever since I was told that I needed to give myself permission to fail occassionally I have been rethinking my legs. Because I have no other legs to change to I will have to find a way to get along with the ones I have. As a parent did you ever have a child that would not listen to you, would not obey any rules you laid down? Those without children, did you ever have a dog that refused to come when you called? Well my errant appendages are like that. Did you stop loving your child or your dog because of a difference of opinion? No, you found a way to make it work. I have an arm that is awkward to use. It doesn’t open properly and I can’t straighten it out fully. So I do more things with my other arm. I adapt. People are capable of adapting to almost any situation it just takes time and effort, and a lot of thought.
I spoke to a man once who had lost one leg to diabetes. He was inquiring about buying my van. During the course of the very pleasant conversation I learned that he had just recently lost his leg. I was surprised. My illness came on me very slowly over a period of years. He went from two legs to one in a matter of minutes. I don’t care how much you prepare for such an event it must have been traumatic. This man was upbeat, laughing, totally in control. He had made peace with his situation and was in the process of adapting to it. This man was and is an inspiration to me. Here I am frustrated with my legs and he is moving on with his life. I must admit I was a little ashamed of myself. I can get hung up with such unimportant things. I am a well-adjusted (sort of), intelligent woman. I can adjust when I need to, it just takes a little effort. And perhaps a change of attitude.
I have been procrastinating. It’s raining outside and I’m a little tired. I thought maybe I would just post something about the animals I’ve shared my life with over the years. And then I thought maybe something from my childhood. I love my memories and I’m so pleased I still have them. But that’s not what I want to talk about. Today is a sad day in the world.
I do not understand hatred between people. I hate beats. (Apologies to those who love them.) I hate bigotry and racism. I hate intolerance and condescension. Why are they so prevalent everywhere you look? We have people inciting hatred for no apparent reason. Perhaps they are a little different than you or I. Maybe it’s because they live in a different country. These are not good reasons!
We all have so much in common. Every single person on this planet bleeds the same colour. We all laugh and cry and feel pain. We may speak different languages, look different and even have different customs but we all have the capacity to love and to hate. Why would we fan the embers of the negative over the positive?
We are all brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, parents and children. We are one race: the human race. We need to stop hating and start caring for each other, for those who are less fortunate and for those who are different. ‘Different’ doesn’t mean bad any more than ‘food’ means pizza. There are all different kinds of people in the world and working together is how we will become the best version of ourselves.
I want to live in a world where people like each other. I’m not asking for love. That comes from a deeper place. I’ll settle for ‘like’. People are killing other people for reasons that don’t make sense. Perhaps that is the point. Our world doesn’t make sense! Some days I wanted it to stop, just stop. And yet that would be defeatism. We have to work at it. I have to work at. We all have to find the courage to stand up and fight for the truth and for each other. We are not alone in this world. And whether or not we want to admit it, we need each other.
Each spring we anticipate the joy of bringing life into our gardens. We plan and choose and anxiously wait for the frost to leave the ground. We knowingly plant our gardens and wait for the flowers to bloom forth bringing the beauty that we know exists just below the surface. We are proud of our efforts and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps more, on something that is often ephemeral. Hmmmm . . .
Wouldn’t it be nice to plant a seed that we could see bloom everyday? Actually, we can. We also plant other seeds every day but we probably aren’t aware of it. A smile, a wave, a wink or a nod: simple gestures that can actually have lasting ramifications. We have no idea how many people we touch in a single day, a single hour and yet touch them we do. And that’s where the seeds take root.
Unfortunately, those seeds, those ideas, we plant aren’t always positive. Anger has a nasty way of leaving it’s mark long after the argument is done. Fear can last for generations, all from a single seed planted by people we don’t even know. Racism, bigotry, prejudice, the list is endless. We have the power with in ourselves to make a difference. Within our hands, our hearts and our minds are the seeds that we can spread willingly and positively. We are in control, but do we know it?
Each one of us has a need to be nurtured, protected, in order to properly thrive. It is the height of hubris to think that others don’t have the same need. There are more than 7 billion people on this earth and we all have something in common: Life. We need to share it in order to fully blossom.
It’s a little heady to think that we have this power, this opportunity to improve ourselves and those around us. When we catch the eye of a stranger do they see kindness and charity in our eyes or do they see fear and disdain. We can control that. We can control the narrative.
In 100 years you and I will probably be forgotten. In 50 years there might be a faint echo of us in those who are children now. In 25 years we should still be a part of the conversation, perhaps only in passing. Tomorrow and the next day I want to be a continuing part of that narrative. I want to plant seeds of compassion and empathy in those around me. In that way I can pay it forward and see the beauty that sleeps just below the surface. How about you?