Friday, February 26, 2010

A while back I had answered an interview question on facebook that asked if I would rather be deaf or blind. I think at the time I responded "deaf". My rational being I enjoy reading so much that it would be a greater loss for me. I was pondering that question while driving home he other afternoon while listening to music and I thought, "I wouldn't prefer being deaf, I like music and movies and people's voices far too much. I'd rather be blind.".

Instantly, problems with that scenario came to mind. Firstly, I certainly wouldn't be driving to and from work. Secondly, as I looked around at the trees, deer in a field, the faces of the people I passed I realized that I would really miss these things along with thousands of others. I don't want to be blind. Or deaf.

Then I started to wonder, am I just selfish, spoiled? I've seen people in documentaries who say being deaf is very peaceful. I'd never thought of it that way. People who are blind who say it's wonderful because the 'see' things more deeply, differently from others. I wondered if this is true or coping? Then I thought, perhaps I just do not have the coping skills to deal with what I perceive as that kind of loss.

In Detroit I had a friend and co-worker who had AIDS. His HIV had progressed and he was often sick, missed work, did not feel well at work but somehow stayed optimistic. Not necessarily that he would not be sick anymore but about his life overall. He claimed in many ways this was the best thing to ever happen to him though he wouldn't wish it on anyone else, ever. His was much more conscious about his health, friendships meant much more to him that they ever had, his relationship with his partner (who was HIV-) meant more to him than any relationship he'd ever had. He was in a stable and healthy relationship for the first time that he could remember and yet he was physically ill much of the time. My sense of disbelief kicked in and marked his attitude up to coping skills once again.

But what if it isn't coping skills? I have no reason to doubt that these people with what I  perceive as hardships claiming to be better off now than ever are telling me the truth. Have these people really taken their situations and turned them into strengths for them?

Joni Erikson who was paralyzed early on has continued to do art and write books for years. She's on the radio and seems to be doing very well. She's not angry with her circumstances. She rejoices in who she is and who she can be. I admire that kind of strength and have to wonder if I would be like any of the people above or if I would just become bitter, depressed, angry and not enjoyable to be around in general. I'm grateful that so far I have not been put to this kind of test. I truly believe we are never presented with anything that we cannot deal with. And if I couldn't deal with it, maybe that's not a bad thing either. Understanding my shortcomings.

I appreciate strength in others. I appreciate those who hold to a higher call. I appreciate those who use their differences to lift the rest of us up and encourage us and point the way.


At 2:18 PM , Blogger climdo said...

Hey Joe,
You are awesome. I know a little bit about your job (I think) because Mikey used to do the same thing when he first moved to SF. It is a very difficult job. Mikey would get frustrated, and he is a very patient man. I admire your kindness. You are generous in spirit and I know you are showing/teaching these kids something that others have failed to do. And they will remember it always. I hope you do not get too discouraged because you are doing the work that many others do not have the gift to do.Keep up the good work!


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