|Taken from http://bit.ly/KOB6Ki
(I plan to replace this photo with one of my own deck)
A long time ago, my energy healer Ryan (remember his guest post?) recommended a deck of Toltec wisdom cards based on Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements. Of these four principles, one of my favorite ones is “Be impeccable with your word” (if you’re curious, the other three are “don’t take anything personally,” “don’t make assumptions,” and “always do your best”).
I carried the deck in my purse every day for a long time (till I changed purses and they now no longer fit!), reminding myself regularly to go through the stack. While I was going through what I now call my Dark Age (a span of three long years mending a broken heart — the other gigantic obstacle I will never forget at this point in my life), Ruiz’s The Mastery of Love really helped open my eyes and get through the darkness.
Anyway, I mention “Be impeccable with your word” because I think it brings attention to something a lot of us (yes, sometimes me too) don’t give enough importance to. It extends farther than just keeping promises and appointments and telling the truth. What we say also has a profound — if unconscious — effect on how we interpret the world.
For example, my father is an immigrant whose first and native language is not English. Unaware of the horrific political incorrectness of the term, he has been known to sometimes describe me to others as a “cripple.” He’s also blissfully unaware of my horror and embarrassment.
That may be a radical example, but a similar (though smaller) horror/embarrassment visits even when my mother (who is even less skilled at English, and is the world’s biggest gossip) tells perfect strangers that I’m a “handicap.”
Because, Mom and Dad? The reality is that when you label someone disabled, there are unspoken undertones that come with that label. You inadvertently draw a dividing line between that person and yourself, creating the understood us vs. them mentality.
To me, the most important aspect of any human being is that which could never be “disabled” — the very essence, the spirit of the person. To call me disabled is to imply that there is something inherently wrong with me, not that actually, some physical abilities were greatly hindered. It becomes attached to my identity and thus your perception of who, and what, I am. If you asked me, the only thing handicapped about the entire situation is the way we address physical maladies. When someone has a cold, do we call him diseased?
And the world looks at people living with disabilities with great discomfort. When I was an undergrad, I used to work with students who required assistance or accommodations from the Division of Rehabilitation Educational Services (DRES). I was a reader and writer to students with visual or motor impairments, most of them with quite severe conditions.
Once in my physics class, I met a fellow pre-med (a pre-med!) who found it unfathomable that one of the students I read for at the time, who was born blind, was studying to become a lawyer. “A lawyer?!” he asked, gawking. “I wouldn’t be able to stop staring at him.”
. . . really? Hearing him say this then made me want to tell him that if he ever got his medical degree, I’dbe the one who couldn’t stop staring.
Disability is a tough beast to tame. It’s uncomfortablebecause no one wants to imagine him or herself in that position. Worse yet, it’s uncomfortable because those who can’t hide it involuntarily spook others away (like my classmate), even if they’d rather just be friends — or simply, be treated just the same as anyone else.
I’ll tell you one thing though. Those of us who live with disabilities are not much different from those who don’t. We have exactly the same right to live life with as much love and light as anyone else. I’ve been at both ends of the wheelchair, and I’m still fundamentally the same.
All we ask for is some consideration, because we struggle with the discomfort of handicap most of all.
To our healing,