On taking a good look at yourself

by on 週四, 23 十二月 2010 評論
One day I opened up a magazine. What I saw was a big picture of a teacher sitting in front of his class apparently holding his students spellbound. So I started to read the article to find out what was so special about him. To my surprise it said he was disabled from polio. Looking again at the picture I realized he was sitting in a wheelchair. The first time I looked, I had failed to notice this.

Was that good or bad? It was good, I suppose, to the extent that I had focused on what he was doing rather than how he was doing it. But it was also bad because I had overlooked an important part of his reality.

I don't mind it at all if you can accept me and listen to what I have to say forgetting that I am in a wheelchair. But I will mind it very much if you invite  me to a  party  upstairs where  there  is  no  elevator because you  forgot that  I am  in  a wheelchair.

Whether I like it or not, my disabilities are an inseparable part of me. I don't want to be judged by my limitations, but neither do I want these limitations ignored.

After 49 years in a wheelchair it is hard for me to imagine what life would be like without my disabilities. I'm not  even  sure I would  want  to  be  free  of  them, since without  them I wouldn't  be enjoying my present job and without them I would have missed  out on almost every  important  event and exciting adventure I have enjoyed over these many years.

Therefore, if I am going to live well, then I must learn to live well with my disabilities. And if others are to go on living with me, then they, too, will have to learn how to live well with my disabilities.

I cannot control how others react to me. I can only control how I interact with them. The more comfortable with my disabilities that I appear to be, the quicker that others will learn to be comfortable with me.

I cannot have contentment in my life without making peace with my disabilities and limitations. I do not have to want them or like them, but I have to be determined not to let them interfere with my living as full a life as possible. I acknowledge and respect my limitations and needs, but I refuse to let them be the center of my life. I live with my disabilities, not for them.

Peace comes when there is harmony between what I am and where I am going and what I want to be. My life has value, because it is going somewhere. It is not there yet, but every day it edges a little closer. Keeping peace with myself means keeping active. Even rest chosen and enjoyed is peaceful activity.

 

Ronald’s Rules for Contentment

Rule One: Don’t make your happiness depend

upon conditions you cannot control.

Rule Two: Always look for the bright side of things.

If there is no bright side, then turn on a light.

Rule Three: Hope for the best, but don’t deny the worst.

 

There is a verse I like to quote:

Two men looked through prison bars.

One saw mud, the other stars.

Both men were right. Each of them saw what was there. But they saw only a part of what was there. If you only look up and admire the distant view you are in immanent danger of tripping on a rock or trampling in the mud. If you only look down you are in danger of overlooking many of life’s opportunities. Life is a mixture of mud and stars. To lead a happy life       means to find happiness with both.

We have to learn to see and try to enjoy the whole of life, not just the parts we want, because whether or not we like it we have to live through the whole of it, not just the days of sunshine and roses. We have to make up our minds: not to shy from our troubles, but to face them; not to run from difficulties that will hit us anyway, but to work them out; not to close our eyes to the mud, but calmly put on galoshes and continue on our way.

 

Photo from Ronald's archives

Robert Ronald

Bob was among the most prolific writers of eRenlai. He passed away peacefully on January 2 2009 in Taipei. A tribute to his life and his work can be found here on eRenlai: http://www.erenlai.com/index.php/en/focus/2011-focus/bob-ronald-challenged-but-not-disabled

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