Wednesday, June 3, 2015

With Elliot's Eyes

Elliot's eyes grow large as he watches the lift ascend and my chair roll into the van that will take me home.  Again I give thanks for these encounters and how they shape his understanding of who and what is normal in the world.  Then something flips.  Elliot becomes the teacher.   What about 5-year-olds with cerebral palsy today? I wonder.  Do they see with Elliot's eyes?  Can they learn to?  What if a generation of children who have disabilities could see their adaptive equipment as magic; an occasion for wonder?  And what if they never lost that sense of "Wow!"?  And what of me?
Of course I'm aware of the things which adaptive equipment makes possible for me.  A wheelchair brings mobility to my  immediate surroundings. Vans with lifts mean I can travel throughout the city.  But I have lost any sense of their magic, if I ever had it .  Except for when the batteries die, I take my power chair for granted.  Paratransit vans evoke anger or at least frustration.  And somewhere inside me lurks an almost primal knowledge that such equipment marks me as different and slow--with a judgment that different and slow are not good things to be.  Can I learn to see with Elliot's eyes?

It is Nicodemus's question:  Can a man enter his mother's womb and be born again?  Can a woman become five?  No.  But maybe. . .   I cannot deny frustration.  I will never love being slow.  Being different is a mixed blessing at best.  But maybe if I also remember Elliot's view of my world, something in that world will change for the better.

The questions linger.  They have no answers.  But I know that in this moment, Elliot and I have taught each other.  We have seen and shaped new possibilities for life.  May we continue to teach.  May we create a new world.  May the seeds of this time be well-nourished, take root, and grow.