I love reading and watching the inspirational stories of the paralympics, the amputee artists, the wheelchair bound athletes who reach heights of accomplishments that most able bodied people rarely ever manage. They are wonderful accomplishments, but what about those of us who may never achieve this level of recognition? Are we still valid? Are we still good enough? What about the other 99.9%?
For the remaining 99.9% of us it is an achievement doing the everyday things that most people take for granted. For the rest of us we struggle to feel like we belong in this world. For the rest of us its an uphill struggle to get our sense of worth, sense of pride, dignity, respect and a struggle to go on. We may never achieve any more than holding on, watching in the background, congratulating others, being around for our friends, family and loved ones and doing our best to get through each and every day.
So how does this fit in with a world obsessed by thin, young, beauty, famous, career, wealth, success, strength and celebrity? … Not well. For those of us with progressive illnesses the future is very challenging and often bleak. We live with the knowledge that things can get worse and more can be stripped away without warning. The walls can close in quickly and life is a struggle just to keep afloat. We know we rely on the kindness, awareness, compassion, consideration and mercy of a world too busy focusing on the superficial, the pretty, the glamorous, the celebrity and the botoxed. Its frustrating and very, very frightening.
While I don’t believe answers are easy or going to resolve overnight, I also believe that we can not afford to remain silent or disappear from view. We need to find a place in the landscape where we can work together for answers and be valued for the important reasons; our humanity.
I think that no matter what else, we all bring our own experiences to the table. We have our own skills and talents. We all have our own stories and deserve respect for these reasons alone. We often forget that only a small amount of humans (probably less than 10%) reach the type of celebrity and fame that the rest of the world appears to hunger for, but 90% of us don’t want, or need, that status and are quite content just to experience life to whatever level we are capable of. For those of us with serious challenges, that is an enormous feat in itself.
“I have a dream…” [thank you Dr King] of a world where the sick, the disabled, the chronically ill, the autoimmune and the challenged are loved for being the human beings we are. The brothers, the sisters, the mothers, the fathers, the sons, the daughters, the friends… We are a reminder of the human condition and a celebration of the human spirit. If we have other innate talents inside us which means we can paint, write, inspire, climb, love, invent and create then it is important that we get the ability and opportunity to share these things with the world. This dream is the dream that keeps me going and keeps me blogging and makes me reach out to this world, even when it is almost torturous to do so, because I cant afford to give up on this dream, and neither can anyone else who finds themselves in a health affected situation.
History is written about the kings and the queens of the time, but never mentions the peasants and the humble soldiers that gave their lives for their country, that helped build their countries with their day to day deeds and endeavors. History will remember wars, but not everyone who lived through it, but they are still part of the bigger picture as is the generals and the battles fought. When we start overlooking the details that helps make up the bigger picture we alter the picture completely. I remember my husband reading to me about the grain samurai that fought with pride and honor and I see so many of us doing that; each in our own individual ways. The battle that I fight everyday is different from the battle my husband / carer fights, which is different again from the one you may be fighting as you read this page. I hope that we can support each other and respect each others journey as we fight as hard as we can, for as long as we can. After all, that is the human fight; The fight for life.