I wrote these words last night, after I got home. I wrote them for a friend. The math told me I needed to share these words with her. And being who I am, I did. She wrote back, a brief little note, and said I should share these words with everyone.
Well, this afternoon, I just got home. And the math told me second friend could use a note from me. So, I’m sharing what I wrote last night. I’ve modified it as little as possible to keep names out of it. Otherwise, this is what I shared with a wounded friend last night.
Just because that’s what’s friends do in the world that ought to be.
My friend. You make me wish I could give you a big hug, and take you on a long outing at the Botanical Garden. I’d do it. In a heartbeat.
I am not “physically” disabled. I have a 100% functional body. I can walk most people into the ground. Even at my age. I can hold a camera still long enough to take pictures at 35X optical zoom without a tripod. I can mow my own lawn. I can stand on my feet all day at Geek Squad.
I am, however, “disabled.” There are parts of life I simply don’t understand. I’ve told my doc, it’s like I’m deaf. It’s like I can’t hear that part of life that is “social”. I’ve explained to people, “It’s not that I do anything special. It’s not that I’m caring. Or tender. Or any of that stuff. It’s that I don’t have the social constraints most people have. So, for me, it’s all “math”. It’s all observation, and appropriate response. If I’m hurting, don’t I want attention, and help? Or at least someone to say, “I know.” So if someone I see is hurting, what’s the appropriate thing for me to do?”
And somehow, this gets people to call me, “caring, kind, and tender-hearted.”
I’ve told my Doc, “Isn’t this how things are supposed to be?”
So, when I see you write about how you are still getting used to your disabilities, and the reality that you can’t do certain things, my heart tells me I should take time, and say, “Hi!” and make sure you’re OK.
I have never, in this life, been understood. I’m married to a wonderful lady. I’ll never change that. I love her too much. But there are many “features” of me she does not understand. In her words, “I’ve grown used to them.”
One thing I’ve learned in the past 3 years. One truth that’s been hammered into me over, and over, and over.
People are blind to life. They are. Every morning, driving to work, they don’t see the flowers growing by the side of the road. They don’t see the clouds in the sky, or the way the sun reflects off of them. They don’t see the rays of sunlight shining through the clouds. They don’t see the birds flying just above the trees. They don’t see that occasional deer in the field.
They are blind. They don’t see the gifts we are all given, every day. Every day.
They never stop, walking across the parking lot at work, to feel the breeze flowing through their fingers. To feel the sun on their faces. To hear the birds singing, or the leaves of the trees rustling as the breeze passes through them.
They are blind.
They never walk through the flowers of the Botanical Garden. Without time constraints. Taking however long it takes. They don’t stop, and watch the butterflies. They never watch the bees moving from one flower to the next, pollinating the trees. They never watch the ducks, or geese, as they lazily swim around on the lakes.
They are blind.
Did you know, if you really try, if you sit quietly, close your eyes, and just listen, and you keep listening long enough, you can hear yourself breathe. I do that all the time. Did you know, if you practice, and you learn to listen to the things your body tells you, you can feel your own pulse. Your own heartbeat.
I know these things. I see them every day. I know the magic that is life. The magic of watching a 5-year-old cat sleep on your lap. Of watching the clouds as they slowly move, and change, in the sky. Of watching the neighbors dog chase a butterfly, not wanting to catch it, or kill it. Just wanting to chase it, and play with it. Of watching a wild rabbit carefully pick the best weeds growing in the yard, and eat them. Of watching a baby bunny grow through summer, becoming a rabbit able to survive on its own. Of watching a momma duck lead her tiny little ducklings to a lake.
I know the magic of seeing Camellia trees in full bloom in January, in the snow. When people tell me, “It’s cold. And there’s nothing out there to see.”
I know the magic of stretching out on my sofa, with the window curtains pulled aside, and the sun shining through them, on to me. Of taking a nap in that sunshine.
The magic is there. Every day. All I have to do is stop. And look. I don’t have to look for it. All I have to do is look around. It’s there. Everywhere.
People are blind. They can’t see that. They don’t know the magic’s there. They think I’m crazy. Or strange. Or broken in some way.
If I were there, I’d give you a great big hug. Then, even if I had to sit you in a wheelchair, and carry a 2 liter bottle of water with me, I’d take you on a long walk through the roses, the butterflies, and the flower gardens at the botanical garden. I’d stop any time you wanted. I’d let you look all you wanted. I’d let you feel the sun. The breeze.
I’d just appreciate the gift you are, my friend.
We are all different. We are all unique.
Smile, you. That’s the greatest gift of all. The gift of a smile.