Thursday, February 28


At various times in my life, people have expressed admiration for my positive attitude despite handicapping circumstances. Mostly I shrug this off. It's no big thang, I think.

Clowning around
While employed at a bookstore in my early twenties, one such admirer came up to tell me he thought it was great that I was working. This seemed ridiculous to me as I'd never thought I had an alternative. Was I supposed to be at home, hiding in a closet?

My aerial class started again this week. There were a lot of new students, a happy thing for the oft unknown subculture of circus arts. But I proceeded to watch a young woman with obvious ability get most of my instructors' attention. I felt side-lined. They were teaching her moves that I knew I could do, but no one bothered to show me.

After watching her perform the 'mermaid,' I asked to try. My teacher immediately called for a spotter and went for the mattress in case I fell. Wrapping my legs around the hooped lira, I arced backward, hands free. I did not fall.

In the car after class, I cried. I was so tired. More than missed practice, I was tired from years of stepping into the ring, believing in myself without any real sense of certainty--taking a risk that only I could take. I've become so accustomed to proving myself that I seldom stop to admit how hard it really is, all this believing. It is exhausting.

I've had many cheerleaders over the years, of course, and I wouldn't want to slight them, but it is a singularly lonely experience to be the one on whom hope rests. I carry this hope, mine and others', like the most precious of jewels. It is not a responsibility I take lightly.

Truth: in recent weeks, I've come the closest that I've come in three years to quitting this blog. How many weeks have I sat down to the keyboard without an inkling of inspiration?

"Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness," said Henry Miller. I think I'll use that the next time someone asks me if I support myself with words.

In an impassioned email that can only come from a hurting heart, Mountain Guy recently told me that I lead the most privileged life of any one he knows. He challenged me to stop writing about my life and start writing from my soul.

I was immediately offended, of course, but I had to ask myself, am I missing the point? Am I living in such denial of my own hurt that I make a mockery of others'. And I got thinking about why I do what I do––why I write the experience of disability with witty nonchalance, making the handicapped life sound like fodder for sketch comedy.

I've often felt that OneArmGirl is more a caricature of myself than a journalistic representation. But I make no apologies. I am not dishonest in my light-hearted romps, but this may be mistaken for ease of existence. Life is a shipwreck. Humor is merely my life vest.

No one puts it better than the tragic humorist Oscar Wilde: "Life is too important to be taken seriously." If you're road-weary and life-worn, so am I. Now, let's see if I can make you laugh...