Archive for the ‘lifestyles’ Category
Hey everyone. You haven’t seen me around for a while now. but I am focusing on my new venture which I told you about a while back “Rolling With Vishnu”. You can find a few new posts about my disability and how it relates to my spiritual quest, sprinkled in on rollingwithvishnu.wordpress.com. My most recent post has to do with how my disability has affected my practice of meditation.
In my office we have a lot of hallway corners, and I have already started to develop the reputation for coming around a corner too fast and almost making impact with a co-worker. Now, granted, when this happens, the other party is likely just as much at fault for going too fast. But there is always that insecurity as the guy in the wheelchair, that people are going to start saying “Hey, slow down there Speedy Gonzalez!” or something else similar to that. I don’t want to be “that guy” and I write this blog posting in the hopes that I will internalize this, and become more mindful in the hallways. At the same time it is something not to be taken too seriously, I know. So I try to remember it could happen to anyone. But when it happens a few times, I start to think I am becoming “That guy” in the office in the wheelchair. Speedy Gonzalez. Aargh!!! I really dislike that reputation. But I am the only one who can change it.
I just started a new job this week. Today was my fifth day of service at the company. Six if you include the interview. Today was the first time there was a single word spoken in reference to my wheelchair. I am greatly enthused by this. The only reason it even came up today was because we went on a little lunch-hour field trip across town and I carpooled with my supervisor. She needed to know how best to disassemble the above-mentioned chair. I don’t remember it even coming up yesterday when she offered to let me ride in her car.
Some of you people may not realize how seriously big this is. To celebrate, before we got in the car to go back to our office, when she made a sarcastic crack about having to fit my wheelchair in her car, I broke the ice open completely and shot back “I can’t help it I’m a cripple!” I don’t know why, but that is my idea of fun.
Now that I have stated my demand, clearly and concisely, I’d like to note that once again in 2012 the Paralympics follows close on the heels of the Olympics. Once again it has been relegated to a Youtube channel, various other online live feeds, etc, while the Olympics (the Walkie version) is again a world-wide network TV 24-hour a day, weeks-long extravaganza. It’s probably on TV right now. Let me go check………….Yup. It is. Water polo.
Eighteen percent of the U.S. population has some form of disability. That statistic throughout the world is comparable. Everybody knows someone who has some kind of disability that would be represented by athletes in the Paralympic Games. Why is this not on NBC? Do we need a specific TV network just for disability-oriented programming much like African-Americans did with the BET network?
Come on, NBC, it’s 18% of the population! Think of the ratings! Even if just out of curiosity, huge numbers of people would be tuning in to see this. Think of the new ad revenue you would generate from a wide variety of sponsors.
And lastly, you would be providing a service. Network exposure for Paralympic athletes would show the world at large a new side to disability. For one thing, it would demonstrate how many disabilities are not visible, yet very real for the person living with that disability. And it would help able-bodied people become more knowledgeable about a wide array of different types of disabilities. This can only be a win-win situation. The Olympics this year got Paul McCartney to play the opening ceremony. I say we get John Mellencamp to play the 2016 Paralympics on NBC. He’s got spina bifida. See, a disability that is not visible. You’re learning something already.
If you agree, please pass this on.
A couple of my most popular pieces on this blog are one about a psychological anomaly which causes one to want to be an amputee, and another piece with tips for guys in wheelchairs to follow to keep their abdominal muscles in shape.
Observing this trend, my mind can’t help but start wandering. Being in a wheelchair, this is my average (uneventful) day: dragging my body around from bed to wheelchair to car, to wheelchair at work, back to car after work, to wheelchair, to sofa, to wheelchair to shower, to wheelchair, to bed. This is a lot of movement which involves tremendous stress on the upper body, which those of you with use of your legs may never have considered. All of this transferring throughout the day goes a long way toward keeping the abdominal muscles reasonably fit. My point is this:
If I were one of the amputee wanna-be people alluded to above, if I were to dispose of my legs, and the extra weight I carry around because of them, I think my abdominal muscles would be in a rough condition after a while. So these “useless” legs have a hidden purpose, all told. I joke about wanting to cut them off sometimes, but a guy in a wheelchair would never really want to be an amputee. My paralyzed legs provide a natural balance for me. Given that the United States is one of the “fattest” countries in the world, I would think there would be more overweight men who would want to be a paraplegic in order to gain the benefits of the built in work out of dragging the legs around.
This is just how my odd mind works. Take it or leave it.
I wouldn’t go scuba diving myself, but I think that knowing the opportunity exists to have the type of experience that Diveheart makes possible is a great thing. It makes me think back to when I was given the opportunity to go downhill skiing in Lake Tahoe. It was the greatest feeling of liberation I’d ever felt in my physical body. And I wish that feeling will manifest in many disabled people through Diveheart. Check it out. I saw a bit about them on TV this morning and I thought about all of you.
For anyone who has been in a wheelchair since birth, as a result of a maturing process, natural adjustment and development of sense of self, there comes a time when the thought that you are “in a wheelchair” does work it’s way to the background of your consciousness. I have never been particularly conscious of my wheelchair. Not since my turbulent teen years, social pressures, dramas and traumas, all that. But I also know that in the past four years, meditation has helped to expedite this personal evolution.
In meditation, one becomes aware of that which lies beyond the thoughts. There comes a time when one can actually see himself observing the thoughts from a separate, neutral corner. As a method of “turning off” the mind, one finds that he is not merely the sum total of his thoughts. And as long as that is true, then he certainly is much more than his body. One finds, eventually that the mind, – and more importantly for the purpose of this blog posting - the body, are tools of the true Self. That being the case, one holds a much healthier opinion of these tools.
Throughout this process, one should see self image improved. Self-image is different from ego. Meditation is a way of neutralizing the ego and its negative influence on our decision-making, thereby freeing Self-image to encourage, enlighten and inform our actions, and enrich our lives.
What could be better for a person who is often defined by those around him by the condition of his body and what it can NOT do?
“Push Girls” debuted last night on Sundance Channel. I thought the show started off good. It’s not your typical study of people in wheelchairs trying to fit into society really. It covers a variety of issues from relationships, and employment that are often struggles for those in chairs. But the chairs become secondary when the series surveys other key issues, such as homosexuality, work stresses, etc. which really drive home the point that these ladies deal with everyday things. There lives are not just “wheelchair, wheelchair, wheelchair, 24/7.
One of the four ladies featured on the show describes how it is talking with clients of her business on the phone, setting up in-person appointments with them, and then the reaction when they see she is in a chair. This is a case-study in and of itself.
Another struggles in her long-term relationship with an able-bodied man who does not think he wants kids, but she knows that she does. I loved how this turned the tables on what one might expect. You know, an able bodied man wanting kids but in a relationship with a woman who may not be able to because of her disability. She is sure of it and wants that experience, and he eventually ends the relationship. But the woman showed herself to be strong in her convictions, ready to end the relationship herself if need be. A poignant moment was her saying (to the camera in a private tell-all moment) that she wasn’t going to be one of those disabled people who stayed in a relationship that wasn’t what she wanted just because she felt like she would never have another chance.
It would be sad for a disabled person to live like that. But I couldn’t help thinking it would also be sad if the perfect person for her happened to be another man in a wheelchair and she just didn’t recognize it.
Another enters a dance competition wherein she is the only contestant who is not standing. It is interesting to see her prepare for this, knowing that all eyes will be on her, knowing that she’s at a distinct disadvantage from the beginning, and knowing that some will see her participation as a novelty. She is not doing it to show off, or stand out. She is doing it because she has always been a dancer, and will always be a dancer, working legs or no working legs. She is not a novelty and she shows it in the competition.
The series speaks volumes about our place in society as disabled people. In every aspect of life, we throw ourselves into it, and participate. My wife and I cannot wait for next week’s episode.
As Memorial Day comes and passes again tomorrow, I know I will be hearing a lot of slogans and speeches about supporting our troops. And I whole-heartedly agree. But I get the feeling that a lot of times holidays such as Memorial Day are days meant for sentimentality and not much else. Sure it is a day of remembrance for the fallen. But what about remembering those who gave and lived to tell about it? I know the term “memorial” suggests those who have passed, but it also suggests “remembering.”
We can remember what our troops gave by helping those who came back with disabilities a chance to remain a vital part of our society. There are a lot of programs like Veterans Employment at VA.gov, or militaryvetjobs.com or Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) that are dedicated to helping our soldiers come home with, literally, something to come home to. A job. A purpose. Income. Hope. Please support these and organizations like them.
I know that many are concerned that this is an extension of “Affirmative Action”. I am not a veteran but I am disabled. And I have struggled with obtaining employment in the past. I have said before that I don’t want to get a job just because I am disabled. I want to be qualified. But remember the military qualifies soldiers in a vast array of areas of potential employment. They may come home disoriented by the struggle to cope with their new bodily circumstances, shall we say, but they have been trained to be successful in whatever they do.
Supporting veterans in their search for employment upon arrival back home may be the most patriotic thing one can do.
1. It supports the newly returned soldier.
2. It helps to keep our economy running by keeping jobs filled.
3. It keeps the deficit from rising when injured soldiers come home to a disability check.
4. And, often overlooked, think of how morale will rise among troops who are still on duty overseas, when word gets around that a movement has begun back home, that they don’t have to worry about how they would support their family should they become injured in the line of duty.
Just dropping by to note a series on premiering on June 4th on Sundance Channel called “Push Girls”. It is a series which will follow four paraplegic women in the Hollywood area. The series intends to show how these ladies can be ambitious, outspoken, dynamic, and…believe it or not…sexy even! See the link above for more information on the premise of the series.