Thursday, June 20

the difference in a day

I met a woman yesterday morning, thanks largely to Keeper the dog who ran toward her down the sidewalk barking ferociously. When I got near enough to grab Keeper's collar and apologize, the woman looked at me and said, "I have to tell you: you inspired me to wear sleeveless clothes."

She went on to tell me how she'd seen me on the plaza and was impressed by my seeming lack of concern for appearance. "Look at her," she commented to a friend, "she's just so OK with who she is."

Then this sweet lady got a little choked up explaining that since she'd contracted Polio as a child, she had always tried to hide her right, somewhat shriveled arm [which I hadn't even noticed till she mentioned it]. As a retired nurse, she'd spent her life caring for others in perhaps their most vulnerable states, while never being able to fully embrace herself.

Apparently seeing me, sleeve free, out in public planted a seed that grew into a coming out with disability party. And there she was, on the sidewalk before me, wearing a tank top. I don't have to tell you that this made my year.

I wanted to hug her. I did hug her. There we were, two strangers on the sidewalk, celebrating what, to many, may seem an insignificant victory. To us, it was the world.

It's not just about sleeves. It's about a deep shift in self perception and identity. It might look like there's just more skin showing, but under that skin is a stronger connection of body with soul.

Before she continued down the street, she said, "You know, it's amazing what a difference you can make by just being yourself."

It's nice to be reminded.