This picture is a view from my neighborhood. Just go up one block and there you have it. Below the bridge is a beautiful lake. Look ahead and you will find that the screeches of joys are coming from children playing in the pool next to the palm trees. Continue looking further and you may notice the beautiful snow-capped mountains that line the horizon. And here you have it: two completely separate lands to enjoy for many different, unique reasons. I live in the land of the palm trees now, but I spent a childhood growing an appreciation for the beautiful snowy scenes.
This clear understanding of knowing one land while living in another is a reflection of more than just a location my life has me in now. I live in a world where the majority of people do not have disabilities that can hinder their day-to-day activities. In this world, I appear to fit in well. If you ever saw me, you would think I was as able-bodied as the next 5’2”, 30-some-year-old mom. I can laugh. I can strike up an engaging conversation with nearly any stranger. I do not appear to be held back by any internal limitations.
But that is not my world I have come to know. No longer do I live in a land of “normal” abilities. I sometimes struggle with easy tasks. You will not notice the number of times I have scraped my knees from falling as I practice walking every day. I often feel awkward when getting my kids from school not knowing if the lady looking in my direction is a next-door neighbor or someone who just happened to catch my eye. Prosopagnosia follows me as I go back to my hometown and feel silly when I have to ask my family who someone was that just spent fifteen minutes chatting with me only to learn it was someone I attended school with for twelve years! But this able world is one I can blend into rather well. I knew it for so long that it comes as second nature. Whether it is a blessing or a curse, I can hide nearly all of my limitations. It is not my land, but it is one I can appear to comfortably walk through.
After leaving the school grounds, I can go and speak with people who are struggling with a battle of neurological conditions. I spoke with a dad and his daughter the other day. The father had fears of his daughter’s worsening epilepsy. The daughter was uncomfortable with the side-effects her medication was creating. They were looking for someone to listen to their struggles. I have been there. I am well aware of both of their hesitations and concerns. I used to attend a low-vision support group. I could relate to the stories of frustration and sadness. These were patients having the similar experiences to the ones I had recently passed through. I knew this land. The world of having to acknowledge a disability and pain of limitation is one I am well aware of. I live in this land, also.
And so, from a block away I can see two lands. One is the land of perpetual summer where a pool is always open and the palm trees gently sway. I love lounging by the water and later calling my winter frozen family to complain about the sun being too warm. I keep looking ahead, and I see a land that reminds me of the past where I used to live – similar to the able-bodied world I still walk through – It would be so nice to go up the snowy mountain and be entertained by sleds and skis once again. Yet, I have a comfort in the land of which I now reside. There is a peace in looking around and knowing that as the palm trees sway and darkening sky glows with a bright, vivid sunset, the warm winds will be waiting for me in the morning.
It is a gift to have experienced so many different aspects of life. I have been able to develop the ability to walk in between different lands and rarely feel as if I am out-of-place. I belong in the snowy mountains and in the warm desert sun. I belong in the world where nothing but motivation can hold anyone back and the world where limitations are not only accepted but also acknowledged.