Tag Archives: Ability

Resolved the Paradox of being Able when “Disabled”

Discovering that you are “Able” when disabled seems like a paradox. When we accept that we are “Disabled” how can we think of ourselves as Able, too? Let us explore this Paradox.

What is a Paradox?

A Paradox exists when two or more things that seem to be opposites exist at the same time. For example, many of us have contemplated why People do Bad things when they think of themselves as Good?

For those of us who accept that we have a Disability, trying to discover our Abilities seems like a Paradox. Knowing that we are not able to do some things makes us expect we cannot do most things.

How can we resolve the Paradox of Ability in the face of Disability?

Most of us just ignore our limitations. We struggle with the tasks of life never realizing what we can and can’t do.

For those born with their “Disability”, they discovered early that others could do things they could not. Most of us realize that we have some sort of limitation. A lot of us discovered we can’t be stars in the classroom or on the athletic field. Then we realize that quite a few of those around us are not Stars either.

When our limitations deprive us of a big part of what others experience, it has a different impact. Lisa Larges (in her podcast interview) discussed this. Being visually impaired became part of her identity, just like being female. She has the benefit of sharing blindness with her sister. Still they each have to make their way in a sighted world.

We might also choose to pick one label and ignore the other. Few can live thinking of themselves as Bad. We kill animals; yet think of all life as sacred.

We may choose to embrace one option and ignore the other. We run a red light and excuse it by saying;
we needed to get home early.

How many other paradoxes do you see people living with on a daily basis?

Trying to resolve a Paradox can lead us to deeper truths and understanding.

The two options might not be true opposites. There might be “Shades of Gray.” We all have different abilities to balance. Some are faster than others. Thus fast or slow are relative and – not opposite.

We might see exceptions to the rule. “It is Ok to run a red light if no one gets hurt.” Some sports even allow for this. Take the Advantage rule in Soccer… The ref need not call a fowl when there is no advantage gained by it.

All of these attempts are superficial. They don’t allow us to see how opposites might not be opposite in reality.

After World War II existential philosophers decided that good and bad were labels we placed on events. The events themselves – like War and genocide – were not truly good or bad. They happened for reasons some of which most people would label as bad but others label as good.

We might say that being able or disabled are labels we accept for ourselves. Few blind people havbe no light perception at all. Those that do are able to locate things around them by other means. Some have developed their hearing to the extent that they can locate objects in a room upon entering.

Others seem to know where they are by different means. I have a totally blind friend who can tell us where we are wile riding in a car. The sounds of the city change in so many ways. The car turns and swerves. How often do we get disoriented driving in a strange city at night? Yet she always seems to know where we are.

We might also resolve a paradox by looking at how the opposites came to be. “White Privilege” can be looked upon that way. In prior generations whites were able to assert themselves over others on the basis of race. Thus, white people have privileges they inherited. They learned that what others see as a privilege was the norm. White Americans saw police as friends. We now see that Black Americans do not view the police the same way.

Slavery in America led to this White Privilege. The Early Colonists had slaves of all races. As the number of slaves increased, it became hard to tell slave and free apart. Race became an easy way to divide people and their social roles and rights.

In time, we agreed to end Slavery. Many see Racism in America as one of slavery’s legacies.

Disability probably came about when some could not keep up with the crowd and needed other accommodations. The Term Handicap came about because those with disabilities were allowed to beg, “Cap In hand”.

Getting Social Security to classify you as “Disabled gives you protection under the ADA. Could this be a modern version of Handicap? A label of being “less than” gives you advantages.

Another way we might resolve a paradox is by looking at the outcomes. Political views are often strongly held. Both sides think they are correct and justified. They refuse to see the other side as valid.

We might see this political paradox as enabling us to get along with someone else’s viewpoint. If our opinion that those who receive Disability Insurance payments are drains on society gets accepted by others it will also become the opinion of the group who are rejected to receive disability payments. We end up in two camps. Those camps reinforce our views of Disability Insurance.

Being in one or the other camp meets our needs for community. At least until we become disabled and dependent. Then life has forced us into the camp that likes Disability Insurance.

Can a paradox teach us more?

We can look to what is common in the opposites. Political Party affiliation results in meeting our needs for community and affirms world views.

Racism enables us to anticipate others behaviors and backgrounds. We all need to be able to anticipate danger and find friends in a crowd. Most of our Prejudices do this poorly. We need to find other ways to do this.

Thus, pondering a paradox can offer us new solutions.

Understanding why people affiliate with one political party or the other suggests that we could also create communities around other activities or issues.

Pondering race and gender discrimination leads to other solutions. Experience with others of different races or genders allow us to recognize friends and anticipate foes.

Accepting the label of, “Blind” allowed me to make friends who were also experiencing blindness or low vision in their lives. My fully sighted wife does not enjoy the gatherings of my blind associates.

So we might ponder a paradox by asking:
How did the two opposites come about?
What are the benefits common to both of the opposites?
How might we gain the benefits without going to either extreme?

As All Ways, Seek Joy,

Can you do this?

What adult has not been asked that question by a child? The child has discovered a new ability and thinks it is neat.  Sometimes it is something simple like standing on one foot other times it takes more effort like rubbing your stomach while patting your head. If you are older like me you might want to see if you still can do these.

Over our lifetimes we learn and unlearn many things. If I tried to do much of the math I did in college, I would need to review. Other subjects like the social sciences; I am better versed in because I continue to read in those areas. I also majored in the math based field of Chemistry, but don’t work in that area.

The process of learning and the unlearning things starts in childhood. Neuroscience has found that beginning in early childhood our brains continually rewire themselves. Since, our brains grow until we are about twenty-five the unlearning is not noticeable until later in life.  Yet if you observe how a child throws a ball, you notice that that skill changes. Their body changes, so they have new abilities. They change their throw to take advantage of those new abilities.

In the early adult years there is so much to learn or relearn. Usually we do what we saw adults do. Take for example in a marriage. The way we interact with our partners repeats the patterns we experienced in our homes. this often causes conflict when our partner does not do as expected.  Knowing this most couples negotiate this. Sometimes they need help to break out of undesired patterns, Many Life Coaches focus their efforts in this area.

Later in life lost abilities begin to be noticeable. As an athlete you notice this earlier, with peak ability usually before age 30, sometimes in our teens. For most of us our careers peak later on. Yet at some point all of us realize that we need to step aside and let younger people shine. As an athlete becomes a coach, workers become mentors.

What happens next? In the work place we eventually become “Redundant”. This happens early for many because of many factors. The technology can change. Surgery went through a major change when the laparoscope was introduced.  Surgeries that required a week or more in the hospital can be done without overnight stays. Yet, the use of the laparoscope is not easy and must be maintained. This need to relearn applies to all of us.

Older adults did not grow up with computers. Yes they have been around longer than I have, but not in the common place of today. I recently got upset with some older adults that cannot enter data into a computer or access it when they need to.

What skills have you mastered as an adult? Are there skills that you had as a child that are obsolete?  Have you or a friend had to learn a new job? That is a major effort, but often done.

So, what do you want to do when you grow up?

We ask that of children, yet is that not an appropriate question for all of us? You may have dreamed a life history as a child. Now what does that dream look like? Have you fallen in so many ways so many times that you no longer dream?  Why is that? Have you decided to just follow the path of others?  Why should we resign ourselves to be followers?

I often marvel at the ages of many people in the news.  Many of them seem to be younger and then when their age slips into the news, I was off by a decade or more.  I think I sell myself short. There is a lot of time left to accomplish things.

What are your dreams?

As All Ways, Dream Big,

Coach Dr. Dave