Does Disability give you a Zest for Life?

The thought that a Disability could give you a zest for life seems odd. For most of us the onset of Disability caused the zest we had for life to vanish. Yet, this is the opportunity to put real Zest back in our lives.

When Disability struck it took over our lives. What we thought we were able to do ceased. Weather Disability came in a physical or mental form it consumed us and became our identity.

Those around us no longer see us as more than our abilities. Rather they see us now as only the Disability, the Disability in a personal form.

Most people have no personal experience of human disability. They only have mental images of a disability and those images scare them.

When surveys ask what people worry about the most disabilities usually rank higher than traffic accidents. Yet traffic accidents are more common. The fear of disability is part of the fear of the unknown. Once it takes on a physical form, we become the living image of the disability.

Thus, we become our Disability in the eyes of others.

When others begin to see us as the Disability, they no longer see us for ourselves. Whatever we meant to them before we now become what they fear the most. No wonder so many friendships and marriages suffer with the onset of Disability.

This adds to the Disability spiral. First, others see us only as our Disability. Then we see the presence of Disability taking hold in our own lives and we begin to act disabled. The spiral continues as others see more of the disability than they see of us in our wholeness. It is possible, however, to use the interruption Disability creates in our lives to find the Zest for life!

Naturally we still want to do those things that used to put Zest in our lives. This desire provides us with the impetus to learn the new ways of doing things dictated by the presence of a Disability.

If a disability put you in a wheelchair you are aware that you can’t stand on the river bank any longer and fish. The good news is that there are wheelchair accessible peers where you can find modified boats. You can learn to transfer to a boat and fish with others. These are all processes that life with a Disability requires. These are skills most of us did not intentionally develop or develop as fully as crafting a life with a Disability now demands.

These are new skills we can use beyond coping with a disability.

When a person who is blind shows up to talk about plans for a park, he advocates that all will be able to participate. He forces planners to think of anyone who might come to the park. What would they want to do? How can they do it?

For those of us with a disability we now see that we are contributing beyond ourselves. We see that we are now able to contribute more than we did before.

Now our experience of disability has put Zest in our lives. Disability forced us to learn new things. We used those new skills to live beyond just being “Disabled.” We have reversed the Disability Spiral.

Our disabilities make us pause and look at life. Not only can we use the desire to renew our former activities to put Zest back into our lives, but it gives us the opportunity to try new things.

As we contemplate what to do next, we ask other questions. We ask the big questions of life. Now they have new relevance, as we have a new perspective.

In our adolescence we asked the big questions of life and found answers in terms of doing things. For many of us facing a Disability we found the answers in terms of acceptance.

Adolescents face life’s struggles as heroes. They dream of success and accomplishment. They are the center of their story. That led them to worry about how they will achieve those feats. They often found their lives consumed with stress. In order to achieve they had to do. They had to do more than they were able to do easily. They became overwhelmed by the “To Do’s.”

When Disability took our chance for success and achievement away, it also took our worry away. We can blame Disability for not succeeding an. release the stress. We now will achieve what we can achieve. This will have to be enough. The story will no longer be just about me, but my working with others.

We must accept limitation. Disability limits us. We realize that we had limits before Disability. In fact to be human is to be limited.

In accepting limitation we also accept the future as it will be, not as we want to make it. We can enjoy life. We can accept it as good.

We can find success in doing the little things. An artist friend of mine is learning to paint by holding a brush in her teeth. She is now quadriplegic. Getting the paint on the canvas to look the way she wants is success. That always is success for an artist.

IN What ways does Disability give you a Zest for Life?

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

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