You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

~ Mae West ~

What Disability?

December 16th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 1 min, 24 secs

Fining happiness in what we can do.

Fining happiness in what we can do.

Everyone has a disability, whether we know it or not.

Even the most able-bodied athlete has something that isn’t functioning completely. Likewise,  models who are at the top of their game are beset with limitations of one kind or another.

Presidents, prime ministers, chancellors: all have disabilities. Though they be hidden, minor, or only temporary, they are there. As they are for the rest of us.

I mention this because it reveals something relevant to happiness. If people expect that delight is contingent on perfect situations, it will be as rare as hen’s teeth.  For long term happiness is not  the pet of perfection or some idealized view of what life ought to be. Instead, happiness is content with flaws, inability, and frailty. Not because they are there. But because they don’t matter.

As it happens there are many forms of disability; some of which don’t normally get called that. But I rather fancy that a bad attitude is a seriously formidable obstacle. Just as selfishness, racism, and bitterness block our ability to do ordinary things easily.

Disabilities are diverse. Yet, for all their limitations, they are never the end of the story. What you can do far outweighs what you can’t.

The person who struggles to see clearly may enjoy an acuity of hearing that is second to none. Just as a man with one leg masters new ways to move that no two legged person could do. Ability, not disability, is the key.

The notable life of Helen Keller, a woman beset with major limitations, was no less extraordinary because she was deaf and blind. Far from it. These disabilities  merely amplified her ability and gave her a sensitivity few people will ever display.

Next time you see someone who is obviously unable to walk, or who has some kind of cognitive disability, remember their capacities. If we don’t know anything about those, we know nothing about them.

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