Rather than labeling a person with a descriptive like ‘disabled’ – the idealist in me would rather acknowledge that we are simply all different, but for the purpose of this blog I’ll use disabled to avoid a convoluted message. And the word perfection is used to describe a subjective perspective rather than a judgement call on what is or what is not perfect. I’d be curious to know which human on the planet has the final call on what is perfect anyway!
While reflecting on our journey with Sunshine and the effects cerebral palsy has on her body, I am sobered by the qualities it has brought to my life and the retrospective view it gives me. One of those new perspectives is the insatiable pursuit of outward perfection that we are relentlessly herded towards. I am bombarded with countless messages each day from the media on how to improve my life which tends to leave me feeling more like an underachiever than anything else. In the sales culture in which we live we will most likely never hear an ad on TV that says, “over the next 28 seconds close your eyes and consider how blessed you are (misty music included),” followed by 20 seconds of silence to contemplate. People would rather fill the space up reminding me of what I don’t have, what I need and what I don’t want!
If we don’t have moments in our lives that forcibly ground us, most will be drawn to the empty pursuit of perfection in all of its forms. Disability forces us to be grounded, it is in a weird way – a gift. Many of us facing problems will look towards alternatives to terminate or change so the pathway is less steep. There is nothing judgemental in that, I have my hand of admittance up as I write! But what we quickly forget is the so called brokenness in our society is what gives us our collective soul – it’s the glue. It presents the opportunity to love without measure.
We have been taught to economise and make decisions that lead us towards ‘perfection’ and in the course of doing that encouraged people to avoid anything that would require them to extend towards the uncomfortable. If we deny the call by not offering an inclusive and open hand towards someone who is different to us (which ironically means they see us as the ‘different’ ones), I fear we will accelerate the likelihood of a community who discards what is not ‘perfect’ and that is a slippery slope.
It is because of Sunny that our friends and family have had to reach a little deeper to look past the effects of cerebral palsy and see the person. Embracing people who we perceive as not ‘perfect’ will help us identify and own our imperfections that get camouflaged by an overstated impression of our progress. Inclusivity of each other is a sign of a healthy culture because everyone (including the person who has the disability) has to extend themselves to cohabitate and that is the pathway to maturity, compassion and equality. If we continue to eradicate all the ‘irregularities’ in our world in striving towards perfection, less will be required from us creating an unchallenged and selfish culture. Disability brings salt to the earth and provides us the unique opportunity to grow. As someone said…”everyone has a disability anyway.” Some disabilities are just easier to hide in amongst stuff and the busy life.
I am strangely thankful that Sunny’s outward expression of her disability challenges the people around her – including me. Sunny and the many other people with disabilities provide a better alternative to ‘finding yourself’ than an expensive counselling session. You will ‘find yourself’ by engaging with people who are ‘different’. If you want to grow, I mean really grow – avoid the outward perfection the media demand and spend time with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable until you become comfortable. You will discover wisdom beyond your own, and who knows, you may just help our world walk a step closer to a community that measures success not by perfection but by substance.