A Year of Living Visibly (Disabled) Part 2

Socially, I did suffer. I started taking my cane pretty much everywhere. (My cane has had a good time). Acquaintances have greeted me with concern. How are you? What happened? I haven’t had a smooth response. I don’t want to get into it. I want to go back to being invisible. People want an easy response, like oh I just twisted my ankle. Not a forty year history. People say—I didn’t know. Well, maybe I didn’t want you to know.

NOTE: This is what I learned. When you want to show concern, focus on the other person’s reaction. Don’t push. Don’t intrude. Don’t demand. It isn’t about you, for God’s sake. It isn’t about you being a nice concerned human being, or a butt-insky one. A gentle—hope you are ok—is more than fine. Other people are not your problem to fix.

Socially, I also benefited. I got to be honest. I learned to communicate better. I was at the beach in Oregon with a friend and she said—you are doing so much better. I think it wasn’t physical, though. It was just that I could say—I need a break, I’m feeling good and can walk, I need my cane, yes let’s go another twenty minutes.

***

Personal best: twice this year I scrambled up steep inclines to see petroglyphs. Both times I spent the entire ascent saying: I can’t make it. My husband Rich just patted me. Up I went. I was scared. My legs hurt. I saw fabulous masked dancers and leaping rams and mystic circles.

***

Haiku helps.

My friend the poet Michael G. Smith and I wrote a haiku dialogue called “Haiku from the Realm of Disability.”
Some are forthcoming in The Santa Fe Literary view. Here are some unpublished ones:

early evening some things we won’t talk about
 
cloudless sunrise
sparrows gather
in the birdbath
 
old friends 

could be deep in mountains 

if I could go
 
at sixteen
mountains called
and call again

One thought on “A Year of Living Visibly (Disabled) Part 2

  1. Thank you, Miriam, for writing about your cane. I’ve always thought canes a marvelous accouterment. When I injured my ankle last year, I had a cane while in New York. One woman in a theatre snapped at me about the cane being her way. Wear your glasses, I told her. Cane was fine where it was. … Byron had a club foot and it never stopped him from revolution, poetry, romance, scandal — maybe dancing — but became so much a part of his mystique. Well, I think the cane helps relieve physical and emotional pain. Wear it to the opera and look beautiful. Well done!

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