Being Handicapped

(The physical condition described for me in the first paragraph changed/improved over time since this was written in October 2011. This “replay post” is about the larger point about how one’s circumstances and life experiences create our sense of values, ethics, and compassion.)


Someone has to cut my food now and often button my shirt. My cane is no longer substantial enough for getting around outside of the house. Dressing myself is a labor. But there is something so positive about being handicapped. It cultivates being. (I was diagnosed with MS in November 2000)

Maybe I can say that because my spiritual life is pretty well established. Meditation, contemplation, as well as a metaphysical understanding and world view certainly do keep things in a particular framework. It is one where challenges are opportunities and the wisdom of the soul gives us just what we can handle. The framework holds me in goodness, in being able to see what has been adjusted within me as a result of no options. That tells me how silly I was in not changing certain factors about myself in an easier way, but c’est la vie!

Being handicapped means that one experiences many things alternatively from people without these issues. Like being pregnant, you start to see others who share in disability. I notice how many people are tired and would be so grateful for a chair or bench at the service counter of a store, or at the long line of the post office, or along the endless expanse of floor to be crossed at the cinema. I notice how many people have canes, walkers, wheelchairs, limps, prostheses, or whose speech has been changed due to stroke, MS, or various other reasons. I watch how those in a rush, stressed out and self-consumed, don’t hold doors for those less strong, or almost knock someone over who literally can’t get out of their way quickly, and that the rushing person doesn’t realize how dangerous that interaction just was. These kinds of experiences don’t increase anger in me. Instead they increase compassion. How did we get like this? Why is it rarer to help than to have a negative comment?

Likewise, so often I see patience in the eyes of the disabled. And I see how as a group we try to pass this onto others. Life doesn’t have to be so fast. We don’t have to feed the monster of stress and anxiety. We can all ‘slow down just a little.’ Humor also is often on the face of a handicapped or disabled person. Just as often there is pain, frustration, and futility. Some things are simply ridiculous in my country! One needs to be Hercules to open a can of cat food or rip open a protein bar. Packaging within packaging, and tamper-proof everything makes almost anything un-openable, unless it is an egg. I love it when my husband struggles with the jelly jar because then it’s not me! Handicap aside, our generation is getting older and our parents are … already old. Does everything have to wrapped up like Fort Knox? That’s a joke since money isn’t even kept there anymore!

dmm cBack to being. This journey has also illumined all the ways that each one of us might be handicapped; not physically but by our habits, tendencies, beliefs, recurring thoughts, and such. What is being for each person? I know what it has developed into for me, but how about for you? Being handicapped has showed me evermore how unique and divinely special each person is; and that through various adversities, people by nature survive, grow, and the majority emerge from it smiling. Greater understanding and well-being are now part of their presence. Life is a great mystery. Being and doing are inextricably linked. Less able to do, or needing to be creative or dismissive in that regard, for me, being was given room to increase. Patience, humor, letting go, trusting others and more have come with this journey. How is your journey going?

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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6 Responses to Being Handicapped

  1. Hear, hear! I was diagnosed with MS in ’96 and do believe that it has made me a better person! Kate x

  2. Charlie Wilkinson says:

    I walk with a cane and I am always in pain. I agree completely with the writer, that in a very ironic way, my disability as well as other health issues I’ve had, has been a huge spiritual gift. I only hope that I am able to pass on this gift to those around me who are still struggling.. I do, however, have to disagree with the writer concerning people coming to my aid. I am amazed at the kindness I encounter on a daily basis from people wanting to assist me. It happens in so many ways every day, and lets me know that the world is chock full of caring and kind people.

    • Kindness is electro-magnetic. One act of kindness produces more of the same. Size or shape of the kindness doesn’t matter, instead kindness just reiterates itself. My experience is that the speed and interrupted nature of our current culture is a source of being too hurried to help or even notice help might be needed or conducive. Often as people are rushing out a door, they don’t hold it for the person coming behind whether or not the person needs it, be that person elderly, very young, with a child, or handicapped. My guess is that being forced to slow down illumines what is missed by going so fast.

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Donna. I am glad your condition has improved. I am often shocked by the indifference of the general public towards the weak or the disabled. I have seen research showing that New York is the worst in this respect. You are a radiant being and it shows in your face and your smile.

    • I bow to your kindness.

      And I trust in the obvious. In other words, as the decadence of the last number of decades is held clearly side by side with the destruction of moral fiber, ethics, and abiding happiness of people and of the destruction of the only Earth that we have for our lives, then people will re-orient. They will orient to that which is innate and has been lived forever – human goodness.

      Supporting that is what a lot of us do. Your explorations of the human psyche through Symbol Reader is a good example.

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