As of today, I have been writing this blog for a year, hence the title. At the outset, I was not focused on how the experience might effect me, rather on how it might impact others. Looking back, because even a blind person has 20/20 vision in hindsight, I am mostly aware of lessons learned and changes within myself.
Chronic illness has stripped away awareness of my own abilities and limitations. Can I reliably commit to something that happens every week? Posting entries regularly through the past year of ups and downs has shown me I can stick to a schedule and meet commitments. In the process, I have let go of my tendency to stress excessively and be hyper vigilant. AS the quality has sometimes reflected, I even have (gasp) composed things at the last minute. With such knowledge of my boundaries and abilities, I know I can take on a bigger commitment without falling flat on my face.
I’ve also discovered I like positive feedback. Whenever one of you posts a comment or I gain another follower, there is some cheering in my house. Praise for something more significant than crossing a street feels great.
Back in 1999, I stopped directly contributing anything to the disabled community. As my energy has increased, I felt guilt for not doing more. I would consider some possible task to undertake only to stop because it felt too huge and I felt ill-equipped. This blog filled a specific drive I possess to change how the world views disability. While it does not reach the masses I would like, it does contributesomething and reaches somebody. To be horribly cliché, I’m following my dream – my heart. Finally.
And then there are the shifts in my perceptions and thinking this experience has evoked. There are a ton of articulate, thoughtful, and spirited disabled people out there saying more or less what I say. At the same time, I have come to know that TABs are not receiving the message. The gulf is somehow wider and deeper than I imagined. More plainly than ever before, I see that only a specific bridge can connect the two sides. Most importantly, I have a clear mental image of how to create that bridge. What I don’t know is how to get TABs to pay attention long enough for me to begin. It’s like I know steps 3 to 10, but I can’t elucidate steps 1 and 2 in my mind.
I think the most surprising result of writing this blog is my take on the word “broken.” I just reread my first entry What’s Wrong with the Word Broken? and find all it says to still be true. However, I have a more complete understanding. Some people seem to need the concept of broken as applied to themselves so they can conceptualize a kind of rebuilding or rebirth. “I was broken, but now I am whole.” It strikes me that integral to this is distinguishing between the present good state and the past “broken” one. It’s about acknowledging effort and embracing progress. It’s about what it means to say, “I am no longer broken.”
I have also discovered something more fundamental than the logic and reason I used to establish my perspective a year ago. Humans are resilient. I would rather focus on how our spirit can weather any storm than how it might shatter upon sharp rocks. Maybe I just like the imagery of something that withstands any force leveled against it. Maybe I am not psychologically capable of even considering humans can break because I fear acknowledging that fact will give my spirit permission to fall into pieces. Especially right now, falling to pieces is not permitted.
I want to leave you with a few questions to ponder on your own. How did you think of disability before beginning to read this blog? Has that changed? Even if you’re a friend of mine and have already been educated by me, have there been subtle shifts in understanding? Do you interact with disabled people you encounter differently than before? Do you tend to notice Braille, ramps, and other aspects of accessibility more? Do you discern ways disabled people are excluded more?