Last week I spent my work day at a barbecue on the beach. Each year we organize this event for our community to all come together: our employees, the people we serve, friends, and family members. Almost 200 of us came together and it was wonderful.
The organization I work for supports people with developmental disabilities to work, learn, and live their lives. I’ve been working with this organization for almost 15 years so although I’ve been long acquainted with disability, our relationship has only recently become more intimate.
My interactions at the barbecue were typical of any social gathering. People question why I have a cane or a walker. I answer that my muscles aren’t very strong so I need help to walk.
Most of those who asked me had their own disability diagnoses so I was always curious how they would respond. Many indicated that they felt sorry for me.
This surprised me because I still feel like my challenges pale in comparison with theirs. Obviously they felt the same but from their own perspective. The challenges we’re familiar with are still the most comfortable.
Whenever I find myself immersed in a room filled with disabled bodies. I see the way each person moves, communicates, and functions with the world around them and I recognize my privilege. When I am able to transcend physical barriers that would stymie others, I find myself so grateful for the amount of ability I have.
Comparison is said to be the thief of joy but sometimes it can open a window of perspective. A perspective of gratitude.