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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wheelchair Philosophy #1: I'm different, so is everybody. (Section 1)

“Perpetual Motion” (Prose poem)

Since the beginning, I have wandered this land unable to stand on common ground sitting down in this wheelchair as myself. No more. No less. The child made of difference at conception, reflecting in my eyes the gift of true perception…. For I have no precedent and thus, no prejudice, because prejudice would require a pre-judging to which I could be held.  Plus, most people say they've never met anyone in my situation. Thus, I feel as though I am birthing a new nation for which there is no lineage, no heritage, only the evolution of movement.

That movement is enacted from this wheelchair that indeed tries to define my nature in my unnatural habitat. You see there is no archetypal family of wheelchairs chillin' at Applebees. When was the last time you heard '"Wheelchair, Party of six?"  It doesn't exist. There is no handicapped cultural gumbo, mambo or martial art to impart to the world. And if there is, it was created for sake of convention, honorable mention and retention of pride and identity. But, you see, Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida and Quadriplegia, Scoliosis and Multiple Sclerosis are not very alike…. And I'm like, "People, NO, I don't know some random guy in a wheelchair and further, why is that the first question out of your mouth, my man?"

He seems, like others to forget Hello. "Hi!” "How are you?" "What's up?" "What's good?" "What's crackin?" "What it is?"  "What it do?" And all I'm left to ponder is what makes this man actually think his question is one that I would be able to answer? "Does he not realize his gross assumption? It would be the same if one were to assume someone of a certain race knew all others of that same race in the community.  This, my friends, is the same mentality that allowed the guy in the movie theatre to give the now infamous, "Good for you buddy" charity monologue in which he would sprinkle inspirational wisdom with inter-personal ignorance and note, I did not say impotence, because just to say the things he said to me, that dude had had to have some big ones. "How'd you get hurt?" "What happened to you?" "Oh! She's your girlfriend? Does your mother know you have girlfriend?"   "Good for you!" "It must be hard!"  "Do you get depressed?" And there is of course the ever overused, "It's GREAT to see you out," which is most commonly and haphazardly articulated by complete strangers or ravers, or drunks or altogether overly excited club hoppers. I feel like saying, "Yeah, they let me out of my cage in the lab just to talk to Your Worldly Highness that I might be so inspired not to kill myself!" This particular "gentleman" of whom I speak was a microcosm of many bewildering years of cheers, jeers and tattooed tears expressed by the minds of those who simply did not know.

They didn't know how I've been blessed to grow to learn to burn to earn that which I am in this, my unnatural habitat. I am a jungle cat who is humbled by his blue stripes and green tongue while so many others see only in black and white! Yes I am Irish and Italian and American born but none of these my chair has sworn.  For the only race it knows is perpetual motion. Its only creed is that of reality.

For you see, I've never really had a home anywhere but my own. There are wheelchair races but those races have no races, only various faces. We all make our own places fillin' in the spaces like the nomadic tribes of Pangaea Postpartum … and somehow they want to give us medals in the Paralympics like we ever knew what the frick we were doin'. All I know is I'm just livin'!
I'm livin' for the city, the country, the backyards, the backwoods, the new trees, the old hoods of this united nation. Yet I am not defined by steel wheels, Roosevelt's New Deal or George W. Bush's Patriot Act. For this chair's motion is an ever-evolving act of Congress never in need of amendment. It labors toward its own industrious revolutions. My home is wherever I may roam…. Call me Metallica! These wheels keep spinning like hip hop turntables as they the stand upright to support my weight. These wheels never hesitate. They only journey to new lands, the Holy Land, lemonade stands, New York, L.A. and Tokyo Japan.  They receive tribal markings from Aboriginal people from down under me who stitch my patchwork across a neo- prolific land bridge… I'm bridging the gaps, as I have been doing for years.

I'm the kid in the wheelchair who lived next to the East Indians, across from the Jews who lived between a Polish family and a black family and a Puerto Rican fam up at the top of the hill.  But we called them names like Sariya, Brian, Alyssa, Dave, Evan, Mike, Asad, Vinny, Abbey, and Scott. All involved were united in our love of swimming pools, Nintendo, barbeque and just being human!

Ah, but humanity is such a funny word encompassing the absurd, the normal and the trans-formal. Jews and gentiles align in textiles but so many of them have never learned to sow. Chinese silk robes and Native American oak sculpture lay untouched and unseen by those trapped in forests— wildernesses fastened and fashioned in the name of ethnocentric concentric circles. And my wheelchair makes circles around these circles sweeping up ignorance like monsoons hoping that somehow these winds bring swift rain like holy water at Pentecost and become the ancient tongues of the Apostles. But don't take these words as Gospel for fear that I may blaspheme the Truth.

Glory, glory, glory be unto he who speaks the Truth. I'd once been told the Truth in its most immediate form never has to be debated, only understood. I often see that many have never known the Truth as I have.  I watch painfully today as the faithful fall to their knees to pray for my healing with words cased in cathedral ceilings. The parishioners proceed to anoint my body with blessings evanescently bubbling and floating— humming hymns of him and her in vain!

"I'm blessed enough already, my brother," I whisper  candidly to a man with eyes closed so tightly that he looks as if he's squeezing orange juice out of his tear ducts as he searches for that Vitamin C, C, C, C, C, C, C, H-R-I-S…T! I respond, "I am grateful for every moment… every moment that might allow my wheelchair be vessel for WE, WE, WE, who are all one.  I say to him, "What if I am the rebirth of Leviticus 21:16? Know what I mean?" He says, "No." and I reply, "So maybe that's not your scene."  "Sir, I am not suffering, but suffrage-ing… voting to believe beyond what you see in me. I vote for love, life, prosperity and joy among us. For these are wheels of perpetual motion with no need for you to be so worried!  Please stop before you have a heart attack in mid-prayer. Amen!"

And at times like these, my wheelchair spins the blemishes once shunned by the Priests of Aaron into dust. For all Humankind is and ever was dust.  We are but dust on the Divine Conscience that has created us.  I shout amongst the clergy, "Don't worry so much about my healing. Because I have my days when I can see the mountain top as I drag the Shadow of Death across my back.  I sow seeds in the Valley with my wheelchair's tire tracks!" In its travels my chair has discovered that I am not blemished, cursed, sick or diseased.  I am living as just me, made of dust and difference with only reality as my precedent.  I am as unique as each of us who is made to breathe.  We are as unique as we believe. Yet, we are similar enough that we must realize what we can achieve… together.

...Roll on!

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