Updated: Sep 3, 2021
Goodness….I hesitate to write this as a title. Most people will say or think they don’t have one. Honestly, I wouldn‘t even think about the word disability had I not had numerous experiences of being in a wheelchair, using a walker, etc. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to see life from a new perspective....sitting in a wheelchair in a public venue will do that. My sense of compassion and connection instead of sympathy or sorrow for others has grown out my own experiences.
But now this whole, new perspective is emerging as I watch in wonder and amazement: the Paralympics in Tokyo. Wow, wow, wow!!! I have watched blind triathletes who swim, bike and run with another "guide” triathlete tethered to them. Tethered to them in a swim.…tethered to them in a run….tethered to them EVERYTIME they trained. As I watch, a flood of amazement, awe and curiosity washes over me. What does it take to allow the receiving of another to support you so deeply in your goals, your dreams, that they are tethered to you every step of the way .…and THEY are your “guide“ to your dream.
Who has the disability here?? Is it the person who lost their sight, their leg, their arm and found the depth of who they really are to come forth and then say…."I‘m ready to challenge myself, grow myself so much that I need another to accomplish my dream, my challenge, my goal?" Is it the person who palpably and openly creates the feel of community, compassion and connection with all the athletes, guides and their families?
The blind triathlete, Brad Snyder, was interviewed with his “guide”, Greg Billington, who competed in the Rio Olympics as a triathlete and finished 37th. Greg, the "guide," had decided he was done with the Olympics after Rio, and then got called forth by someone's dream. Called to be a "guide".....called to challenge himself in a new way by being a contribution in a new way. Both men stood on the podium and both received Gold Medals. Again, the palpable experience of the connection of humanity, the connection of souls to bring out the best in each other was radiating on that podium.
Do I have the courage to allow another to support me, to "guide" me, to be tethered to me every step of the way to the enlivening of my soul, of my dream? I must shed the "disability" not of my legs, but of my heart, my soul that says, "They don't really want to do this with me. This is too much for them. I'm going to disappoint or let them down." Maybe they get more than I am allowing myself to see and experience from being with me on this challenge.
So the question, my dear readers is will I, will you, will all of us, drop our "disability" of doing it alone, withdrawing, thinking small thoughts of who we are and now allow a new A-bility to say YES to another, to say YES to connection, to say YES to the idea that if I grow out of my challenge and you are with me....YOU grow too!!!
Thank you, Paralympians..... thank you for your courage, for your compassion, for the loving community that you so generously display as you run, swim, bike, play basketball, volleyball, ping pong, tennis, archery, etc. with no arms, one arm, no legs, one leg, no sight, to challenge yourself knowing that you are carving out a new humanity and a new future for all of us.
Thank you for being our "guides."