Friday, November 9, 2012

Conversational equity

Last week, I got the chance to visit with a friend I get to see one or two times a year. It was particularly sweet that we were able to get together two times during the week. Sure, we e-mail a lot - thank God for e-mail! - but there’s nothing like face-to-face conversation.

I have been thinking about how one of the things I enjoyed about these visits is that they were a true interaction. I savored, deeply savored, that my friend and I both shared. I got a lot out of being able to talk about dealing with recent wheelchair problems and about being anxious about the upcoming holidays, and I also got a lot of out hearing my friend talk about needing more time alone and an aging family member’s diminishing abilities causing concern.

I know that this sounds like nothing and even idiotic (after all, converse and share thoughts is what people do), and I can’t say why I noticed it so much this time, but, to me, it’s a big deal. And one that I crave and love.

Too many times, because of my disability and need for assistance, I get the feeling when I talk to people that the focus is on me, that it’s all about me. One reason I say this is that whenever I approach people who don’t know me or who are not easy with my speech, before I can use my speech device, they ask me what is it that I need - if they don’t walk away, not wanting to be asked by me for help.

When I just want to ask how they are doing, if they liked the movie, if they want to talk about their dying aunt.

I know that I stick out, but I don’t want it to be because I need help or always ask for help. I know I am unusual - and I even enjoy being unusual - but, still, I long to be just one of the guys. The visits last weekend, for some happy reason that I don’t know, were a precious reminder that I’m making progress toward this goal.

1 comment:

  1. John, believe the conversation when we talk is genuine, as I know you do and had not read this post until I had conversed e-mail with you to visit and just talk.

    Talk ironic, I have always known you and sometimes even expressed my admiration and verbally praised you as my mentor, with your modest disagreement, as I pondered with perplexity at your response of denial.

    I have the deepest respect for your misunderstood perdicament, especially when you express these concerns to me personally.

    Hopefully I will not avoid talking about my homebound mother in KY nursing home or my own Medicare fiasco. I will keep in mind a positive attitude and will probably ask you to listen to me more than you really want to, even if it may be problems of mine personally. I wish the world would change to be more cordial with the disabled without the constant or usual, talking louder, asking for assisting or a common stare. The pet peeve I have about being disabled is the stigma which is the umbrella people in general treat everyone as a label or diagnosis.

    I will be more positive and will improve on my attitude with diligence. As I recall Stevie Wonder saying, "it is not the disabled that have to change, but the world who is in need of changing". Love, Daryl