rachemacle

Different-ness

I was thinking about messaging we are taught when someone looks different from you. For example, when I was a little kid, there was a man I would see around town who had no legs, and it fascinated me because he would get around on his little scooter and sometimes had a little dog in his basket. When I would see him, I would loudly ask, "Mom, why does that man have no legs?" and Mom would respond with, "Shh!"

But I am fascinated and interested by people. I love seeing differentness. It is not the same as making jokes or causing embarrassment. Why do you spend time with anyone you spend time with? Don't you find them interesting as human beings?

When I was in my early 20's, I worked at a little breakfast cafe, and I noticed this older woman who came in accompanied by a middle aged woman. The older lady was only able to vocalize in sounds, but did not seem able to form words. After seeing them several times, I was so intrigued by the woman that I asked what her story was. The companion answered that her friend had suffered from an Acquired Brain Injury  many years ago, which affected her ability to communicate by speech.
After that, I had a few bonding moments with this wonderful lady, she would make direct eye contact and smile at me or nod her head, and one time she grabbed my hand as I walked past and kissed my hand! I felt so touched. After several weeks or months of seeing these ladies come in for lunch, they arrived one day right when I was about to take my lunch break. I asked if I could sit with them! I felt that we had developed a sort of bond. And coincidentally, the woman's daughter happened to come in that day at that moment, and witnessed as I shared my lunch with her mom (ie. She had a tendency to grab food off of other's plates! But I didn't mind). The daughter gave me her card and offered me a job as a companion. I ended up working for her for a couple of years and deepening that bond, but what I found remarkable was that he daughter saw in me some natural ability to connect with others, and to nurture. 

I don't think it is a bad thing to be intrigued or interested in another person, even if that interest begins related to their disability. For many folks with disabilities, I have been told that they identify strongly with that part of themselves. And for me as just another human being, I find I am attracted to unique individuals. Sometimes, when that person has a disability, I feel like "It's rude to stare" or I almost feel like I've been taught to avert my gaze and not engage with that person. It is a horrible method and not one I enjoy. But even from childhood we are taught not to stare, not to ask questions, not to engage. 

Not trying to stare, but I like to look at any person who walks or rolls by me, and I like to greet those people. And on a bus I might talk to any person. And I believe that connecting like that can help any one of us, whatever our level of "ability" or "differentness". 

(Late night/ early morning ramble, hope this made sense!)
xoxox

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