I participated in an interesting conversation today about whether or not everything really is possible, or if we would do better to accept our limitations. The original point being made is that while we tend to blame others for our own lack of growth, we tend to be the only thing standing in our way.
However, as a person with disabilities I wonder how realistic it is to say that everything is possible. When I mentioned this the Special Olympics were brought up as a model of how disabilities are not limitations, and how they inspire the non-disabled to push past the limitations they place on themselves. I’ve commented before on the issue of ‘inspiration porn‘ and how offensive that can be.
An example was then given of a recent video somebody had seen about a woman with cerebral palsy who was determined that she would walk. She was working with a personal trainer on her upper body strength to enable her to do so.
My issue with this example is that I’d like to know why she wanted to much to be able to walk. Was it her desire? Her intent? Or was she trying to fulfill the desires of others? The wish to be ‘normal’?
For many wheelchair users, a wheelchair becomes an extension of their body and represents freedom and independence. The only limitations being the physical ones of the built environment and thoughtlessness.
Dr. Stephen Hawking has been quoted as saying “Obviously, because of my disability, I need assistance. But I have always tried to overcome the limitations of my condition and lead as full a life as possible. I have traveled the world, from the Antarctic to zero gravity. (Pause.) Perhaps one day I will go into space.”
For somebody with his finances and reputation I suspect that it is much easier to overcome those limitations than it is for John Doe who also has ALS but lives on disability and is not well-known.
So is it fair to be hopeful that all things are possible or should we accept our limitations?
I’m not sure.
I think that if we truly believe that anything is possible that that’s when we do achieve the impossible. That we do place limitations on our selves that aren’t real or needed.
However, if I lived in the hope that all is possible would I deal with the reality of my today or would I always be living for “if” and “when”?
I think that ultimately I have to accept that today I have limitations. They may not be the same tomorrow or next year. There are things I may be able to do to change those limitations but realistically if I refuse to accept my current limitations I literally place my life at risk.
Somehow I have to find the balance between living with the hope that one day I won’t be as restricted and limited as I am now in what I can do due to allergies and hypersensitivity and also accepting those same limitations today.
Is everything possible? Yes, but maybe not today.