Craig Vick's Scattered Thoughts

Adventures in Virtual Community

A Book that will Never be Written

6 Comments

Many years ago I had visions of writing a book. I was going to call it Disability Parables. I was frequently invited to speak to children at schools, both public and private, about life with a disability. A good friend had started a magazine about disabilities (Ability Magazine) and I was a regular contributor. I was even active politically, being a member of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Council on Disability and at the scene of a few disability rights protests.

More than this, I had an observation based on my own experiences of living with a disability. I believed then, and still believe, that there was some wisdom in that observation. I had noticed that a disability looks very different when seen from the inside. More than a little is revealed in that difference. From the outside a visible disability, like mine, takes center stage. If the protagonist in a movie has a disability, the movie will usually be about overcoming the disability rather than about the character. If the movie has a religious theme our hero will be miraculously healed at the end. It has to be at the end because once the disability is removed the drama is over. A less religious film will still end when the disability is defeated, usually through some kind of crisis followed by wise counsel and a change of attitude.

This is the view from the outside. In my case, I’m generally happy. I love life. I love people. I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams. From the outside my love of life looks like a tremendous victory over my disability. It looks like I’ve learned or acquired an almost magical life formula. In reality this is an illusion. I don’t see myself as a disabled person. I rarely think about my disability. I’m aware of the power of my disability to dominate perspectives especially of people I don’t know well. Over time, however, this power is greatly diminished. Those who know me well see my disability less and less.

Having a disability doesn’t make me a wise counselor. I haven’t overcome my disability. I haven’t even tried to overcome it. It hasn’t conferred upon me any advice that I can pass on to those who wrestle against the harshness of life and despair. With them I can only weep. It hasn’t made me a life coach or a self help guru. Yet, perhaps my disability has some lessons worth thinking about. These lessons aren’t direct. They’re not the result of what I’ve learned doing battle with an impairment. They are, in fact, indirect, hidden in plain sight. They’re like parables, and that’s how I arrived at the title for my book.

I had it all dreamed out. My book was going to be a best seller. I was going to become a famous author. I imagined a talk show tour. I had all my answers ready for the Oprah Winfrey show. I’m tempted to flatter you my readers by saying that I gave all that up so that I could bring you these parables on my blog. I’m afraid the truth is more mundane. I have great respect for anyone who is able to write and publish a book. I lack the discipline and the will. My book will never be written. Even so, I think these parables are worth some time and attention. I’ll publish them here and wait eagerly for your comments. Look forward to my disability parables appearing as future posts on my blog.

6 thoughts on “A Book that will Never be Written

  1. Having met you only one time IRL, I think back on that day that we had no idea what you looked like and you had no idea what we looked like. You had no idea that the person whose blog you had been reading was over 6 ft tall and I had no idea that the person I had corresponded with was lacking fingers. When I read the post about your mom and you mentioned that you had half a leg, I had to rethink that – – yes, perhaps I did notice the pace of your walk was slower than mine. I guess at the time, I attributed it to my long legs🙂 I’m so glad we met you. My children were able to see a man who may have a physical disability that they could see with their eyes, but clearly they did not “see” disability, what they saw was “ability”. For Micah, the question was not what you cannot do, but how CAN he type? There was no “dissing”. I guess I don’t like that “dis” word. I just don’t see it in you whatsoever.

    It’s interesting you are talking about disability. I was thinking about abuse recently and how some people are prone to abusing. I think abusers have disabilities. Look at the thesaurus words for disability: disablement, incapacity, impairment, infirmity, defect, abnormality; condition, disorder, affliction. Abusers are unable for some reason or another because of their “disability” to love, to connect, to forgive, to offer kindness, grace, to have meaningful relationship. Those are the ones who have disabilities. You are rich, my friend.

  2. Julie Anne,
    I have to confess that’s a rare experience for me to meet people that know me but don’t know I have a disability. It almost happened when I went to seminary. I hadn’t mentioned my disability in the application. Shortly before I arrived on campus, my doctor sent the results of a physical and he spilled the beans. I believe he wrote something like, “Craig will not have problems functioning because of his disability.” I was told by my pastor that there was a bit of panic at the seminary.

    I agree that abuse is rooted in another kind of disability. I suspect, based on Scott Peck’s little book The People of the Lie, that abusers have a difficult time with what’s inside. They focus on the outside. It’s a sad inversion of what I experience. My disability puts a veil over my humanity. An abuser’s outside hides what’s missing inside.

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m rich because I have good friends like you.

  3. Craig,
    I’ve pointed out to people before that the way I am is perfectly normal-for me. How can I miss what I never had? A few years ago, I wrote a poem for parents of ‘special’ Children, to try to get them to see past the disability and see the child. It starts out descibing what the child may not be able to do, then gived advice to the parent. It ends joyously about what the child possibly can do if not overprotected. Here is an excerpt
    “Don’t see me as ‘disabled, impaired, ‘or even’ challenged.’
    The loss you see and hurt for me is pain that’s all your own.
    How can I mourn the loss of what I never knew as mine?
    Why can’t you see that what I am is normalcy for me?”

    Although long gone by the time I wrote it, I wrote it for my parents who blocked me from music lessons because I “would fail”, in their words. They would never know what I acomplished…being able to play any tune that comes to mind by ear on the guitar, and being able to sight read. My dad’s family are musicans. My cousin is not in the least bit surprised. As she says “it comes naturally. We can all do it.” Some people with my hearing loss have cochlear implants. They’re afraid to do it to me because I would lose my sense of pitch!

  4. Thanks Judy for your comment, one which I deeply relate to. What is normal for you and me is something strange and perhaps even frightening from the outside, but only from the outside. I was reading a news article this morning about a new technology which may someday permit growing limbs. I thought about whether or not I’d want to participate in such a thing. I was mostly indifferent.

  5. I understand. Someone once insisted that if I had faith God would heal me. I pointed out that it could be a nightmare. i have never heard normally and have no concept of what people can hear, because what I know is normal for me…suddenly sounds I had never heard coming at me from everywhere and not being able to turn it off might be too overwhelming for me to handle. The person admitted that he had never thought of it that way…and maybe God was being merciful by NOT healing me.

  6. I’m content to leave it in His capable hands.

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