Nine years ago I had my first operation, before this day my legs were at a constant ninety degree angle, as nine years have passed I have grown up in a world both similar and vastly different then the one those around me found themselves in.
But I have learned, and in the times I wished my world identical to my peers I thought of these nine lessons, some I have known since I first pulled myself up into standing at four, others I learned recently; but mainly these nine lessons for nine years have been my navigation, aiding me through a world so similar to the one others are in, and vastly different in the same breath.
The Emmanuel Enlightenment
Emmanuel was a young man about fifteen at the time also in for Orthopaedic Surgery, because of Cerebral Palsy What a lot of people don’t understand is that our condition is brain injury, because of this we can be effected anywhere, and in anyway. For this young man his speech was effected and I had never been around anyone who had this severer impediment and so I assumed, he was cognitively effected. I avoided him. However on the day my usual therapist paid me a visit and we walked down the hall, we heard a voice, strained, unclear but a voice. It was Emmanuel, because he too knew my therapist. It was later I learned he is very bright, and that is why to this day, I will talk to everyone; with the same belief that no matter what, in some way you are being understood, by someone; and you must never assume anyone to be less then capable, because capability is subjective; you could say because I cannot walk I am less capable, however you could say I am capable of more empathy then the average person, it just depends on what you value more; personally. But we must all see dignity and respect as universal pillars of where all importance and value are found.
You are your Reactions
People will judge you, people already have and if I wasn’t in a wheelchair, it would be because of my red hair; if not that, it would be because I am left handed. Some people have created terms to attempt a neutralisation of judgement, feminism, a popular one but now that too has developed connotations. The point; is that judgement is a constant and the moment we come to accept this as a whole society, is the moment it will cease. But we could spend our whole lives waiting for this moment, until then you are your reaction to whatever judgement or dismissive behaviours you face, a group of adult women asked me yesterday if I was ‘okay’ and where I am from you do not ask that unless y’all screaming, bleeding or asking for help however I simply turned and said yes, made a joke and left, because I may be in casts and different to those woman physically, however I am also different internally. I am polite, That is worth more
She’s pretty You are too
I found myself wishing I was prettier more times then I can count, it was later I learned this was useless, if what you backed your looks up with was ugly. Fake tan, comes off. Nails chip. Character and values imprint, so the girl I thought was so pretty, is now someone I realise was just compensating because she was shallow enough to believe what could be bottled was worth more then spirit, there will come a point when you see through the foundation, you can only lie it on so thick.
I am not saying looks are a negative thing, I am however telling you; never value yourself by them. You look beautiful. But you also are beautiful, when you give, when you respect and when you are passionate. You are beautiful, but never look at someone and think “I wish I looked like her” because there is more to everyone then their looks, and you are beautiful they may seem like just words, but sometimes people write what is unable to be spoken and the truth is; the moment you believe yourself beautiful others will to and as we give people the power of self belief, unachievable standards weaken; believe in yourself, your own power not the power of M.A.C cosmetics.
Don’t believe in the What If
I took a liking to basketball for a little while earlier this year, it had nothing to do with the sport. It was a player. He was the first guy I felt comfortable around because I didn’t feel like I was being judged or compared to others, which is something I still feel at times. He is someone who got it and there are only a few of those people around, I did not have to justify my abilities to him, he was him and I was me and it was; okay and for me that was indescribable because I was used to having to prove I was like anybody else. As time went on and his circumstances changed I began falling for this guy and thought maybe something, could happen. I am not a person who believes in could, because I am used to facing must, I must get up, I must prove myself. Not I could date this boy, that was something I wasn’t used to. Something I never encountered, but as time went on I would sit there and for the first time in my life I stopped seeing the positives of my condition and I saw the negatives, because I could never discover if I was good at basketball, I could never be what he wanted. What if I could, What if things were different.
The moment you start to believe in the what if, is the moment you have lost sight of importance. Because what if while I am wishing and questioning I miss out on something important, on something I was meant to do. It took me a long time to see that by asking what if I was actually questioning who I was, because I would’ve become someone else, in that moment, if I could have. But in the end, I couldn’t and the what if would only lead me to more questioning and further away from my purpose, you do not need to become anything other then who you are; to please others or to be good enough and however much I may wish things different;
The truth is: I will never be that person I wondered of within the What If. I am rather the person, who has become of realities. That is a wonderful thing.
Pick your friends like Corn
My grandmother used to get into trouble at the market because she would strip back the outside of the corn before she bought it, it is the same with your friends, strip back their layers; and then put them in your friendship basket. And the truth is, that the corn you pick; will only be a few. Because it is the gems that are still solid when stripped back, layer by layer. You see some people are only there, because you are for them; however if you stopped serving them, they would you. The corn you pick and strip back until you love every layer, is those who will stay with you; because I blind picked a couple of pieces of corn, I could waste time being mad, but I stripped back the corn and the layers, weren’t there. Some people are see through made of their own motives to gain, but others are healthy, grown made to serve, love and help you; as you do them. As you serve others you grow layers of decency, work to serve and give; but those who love you will do the same for you. Remember that. You cannot serve from an empty cup. Look after yourself as you do others, do not pick blind.
Listen to the White Stripes or Look to the Woman in Gold
I once said to someone that I felt like the oldest in rehabilitation when I found out nobody knew who the White Stripes were, the person I was talking to is a very talented musician, who thank goodness knew who they were, and if he is reading this he should know that one day, his talents will be universally known, he is not only talented; he is a person of great substance, which he can sum up in three minutes; it takes me a couple of thousand words. This is my point, the common thread between the White Stripes and the Woman in Gold is this, the band and Gustav Klimt the artist of the Woman in Gold; both pushed the limits and challenged what was accepted, Even if at first, there was not a place for them; they fought for one. Klimt painted women, in a light deemed “too provocative” but he created a council, where his art was accepted and later became some of the most memorable and striking paintings in world art. Never be afraid to go against convention and find your own place to fit. As long as you follow your passion your place will come. Some people use three minutes in song to sum themselves and their beliefs, others words; but all of us must be okay to put our passions above convention; fight for it.
Sometimes it may seem like you have millions of reasons to give up, but in those times believe in one; the one reason you have to keep going, in my times of questioning, weakness. I think of bleeding, because it is then I know that I am alive; and there is a reason for that, just as there is a reason for whatever is thrown at you. Bleeding, can be seen as something rather avoided then experienced, but I am not talking blood. I am talking bleeding spirit, all the times you have ever given to others, made smiles appear on the faces of children or accomplished above your weight class, that is when you have bleed spirit, when you have lived the life you were meant to and that is why everything is worth it.
Connotations do not dictate you
Sometimes we live under pre-made understandings, even small things. If you’re blonde; you might’ve spent time questioning your intellect or if you are male you might’ve wondered if you shouldn’t be doing this instead of partaking in a sport, because that is what is done. There might be connotations with being a male who dances kick ass instead of kicks ass, there might be connotations if you’re a blonde who isn’t the best at math; you could let these worry you, but you could also let the fact that the sun will eventually explode worry you. To hell with everything else, if there is one thing I believe in with my entire heart it is that connotations develop because people fear the capabilities of those around them, you are not dictated by standards you do not set. You are your own person, so dance, drop math but excel in english, but do it for you and for the bettering of the world, as you see fit.
Lastly, look back on the eight lessons you learned; teach them to others.
This has been nine lessons for nine years; With Love to Holly Jarvis and Caitlin Green