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My (new) Left Foot

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Concerning Choice, Acceptance, and Disability

Author’s note: This is my story. Many people feel and think quite differently than I do. I believe it’s necessary and important to make room for diverse and multiple narratives of pain, suffering, mental illness, and disability among ourselves and visible to the public.

I had a hot button pushed (of course like most I have several) on Facebook about choosing joy as proposed by Henri Nouwen. He should know, after much suffering, much meditation he suggests choosing joy because “it doesn’t just happen.”

I am happy with joy. It’s the choosing that makes me bristle. There is nothing wrong with choosing joy, especially if you are aware you are privileged and well enough to have the choice.  Not everyone is and does. I could cite extreme cases, but I’m now feeling the heat of being premeditated and premedicated and I have to wrest. I use the w because it differentiates between the struggle (wrestling) to wrest, and the choice to rest. My disabilities limit the mount of time I can do a certain task. Right now, I’m having to interrupt this work, to wrest. I accept it but am also angry of the loss of time this means. Usually an hour, or the length of an entire two-sided album or cd …45 minutes or more.

….
I’m back.

If we choose, we choose between this and that. It’s unlikely we choose heavy pain, suffering, poverty, addiction, homelessness, chronic illness, and disability. It does “just happen” to us. It is not our fault, we did not bring these on ourselves.  Hell, if my arthritis is gift, I’d be happy to return it.

Being the depressive I am I see the flip side of the coin advocating for us to “choose joy,” which is that, instead, we have chosen to be sad, angry, depressed, mentally ill, diabetic,  poor, and homeless. We should choose joy instead. I hear there are many stories of people who have suffered, chosen joy, and now are paid counselors helping others. If I or xyz can choose joy so can you! I’ve heard that before, essentially the charge is you/I/we are not trying hard enough.

I believe that everyone is different and will travel through life affected by nurture, nature, accidents, illness and happenstance. Joy will happen, and I do believe it’s a good thing, and it helps to be open to it. There’s a Bruce Cockburn song on his first record called “Keep it open.” I always thought of course, it’s my mind “keep it open/help me keep mine open too,” which I now realize works as well for our hearts. I find keeping an open heart harder, though yes, I acknowledge there is a connection between hearts and minds.

 

….

On another point, I would suggest we accept what has happened to us, accommodate and adapt the best we can and get on with living. It is also possible to find some solace and comfort in leaving room for other emotions such an as sadness, grief and melancholy. If you’ve lost something, like the left leg beneath the knee for example you notice, “there is something missing,” and you grieve your loss and figure out your prosthetic. Some need to see their disability or illness as a gift because a)it’s an accepted trope b)it’s easier to accept a gift than a disability c)and most importantly, it’s easier to accept for those around us  who are uncomfortable with our losses or pain.

PART 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

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