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One Question

Photo: me at the age of 5 sitting in a toy car with the steering wheel in my hands pretending to drive.  I am smiling ear to ear with my eyes wide open.
I'm driving!

I recently saw a documentary called One Question (2012). If you want to watch it you will have to rent it for $3 for a weekend. The documentary is 7 1/2 minutes long and about 35 people with developmental disabilities from different backgrounds answering the same question: "If you can change one thing about yourself, what would you change?". The answers may not be what you expect.

photo: quote: Be proud of who you are, and not ashamed of how someone else sees you. The backgroud is a tree with red leaves and green ivy on the ground around the tree trunk.

I found it interesting that the 35 people from the video, One Question, all had a disability and none of them wished to change their disability. Not knowing their background or living situation it is difficult to assess if they are even aware they have a disability. Their identity is who they are not what they have. So I think that is why they chose to change their behaviors, being nice, getting married, being happy, driving a car, or nothing. They were all perfectly content with their lives.

Photo: quote from Goldie Hawn, The only thing that will make you happy is being happy with who you are, and not who people think you are.

This is interesting because so many people work hard to change the lives of the disabled and make them “normal”. Some even think that because they have a disability they can’t be happy with the life they have. People without disabilities can’t imagine having to live as a person with a disability. Keep in mind though this is the only life we know. We don’t know what it is like to live without a disability. Life is challenging but also fun and can be full of adventure if you allow yourself to explore. This is true for everyone. One of my favorite podcasts Junkyard Mayhem talks about this exact question (29.59 minutes into the podcast). Like Shane, I too feel that this is not to be negative about being disabled only to answer the question everyone wants to ask. That being said I thought about the question and what I would change.

Photo: meeting a friend at the farmers market while on vacation.  the back ground is various green hanging house plants.  In the photo is my mom and friend.  We are all smiling and wearing sun glasses and summer clothes.  Life is always an adventure.
meeting up with a friend while on vacation in NC at the North Carolina State Public Farmers Market.

“If I could change one thing about myself that would be”, hands down that I could see. I have the help of assistive technology using Eyedaptic adaptive glasses that enable me to see for short periods of time. Even though I have the glasses, they don't enable me to see all the time. Think about the visual world we live in. Sight is needed for everything. Many people who have vision issues simply wear glasses that enable them to see the world around them. Sight is imperative to be able to drive. Although I hear Elon Musk has self-driving cars, they really aren’t what we imagine they should be. I still don't think I would be able to drive one.

Photo: this is of me and my dad.  I am wearing my glasses.  Dad is standing next to a cardboard cutout of a salty sailor with a whistle.  He is dressed in the navy uniform of the early 1960's.  Dark blue shirt with sailor wings with white embroidered around the edge.  The sleeves are long and have 3 bold white lines on them.  The picture is from the museum.  I chose this picture to show the sighted that details are what describes this picture and some details get left out.  Like the red exit sign in the upper left hand corner of the photo.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Describing every detail will leave something out. Did you notice the red Exit sign or the yellow name tags?

There are several reasons I wish I could see, not only to see the world around me, watch a movie from start to finish but most importantly to drive a car. Many people take it for granted that they can just get in the car and drive anywhere they want to go, but for me, I cannot do that. I have to rely on other people to take me to places. Sometimes when I need or want space, I wish I could get into the car and drive to friends' houses, or just take long drives down the country road all by myself to clear my head. Sometimes I wish I could just get in the car and scream! I could even take a cross-country road trip with my girlfriends sharing the drive and experience.

Photo: my cousins in the car on a road trip.  Nolan is driving with his sun glasses on, Aidy is smiling wearing her glasses for sight and Matix is in the back seat surrounded by snacks and drinks ready for a road trip.
Road Trip! Nolan, Aidy & Matix are on a road trip! Imagine me driving with them! Sorry Nolan I need your seat!

I imagine that being able to see would change everything for me. I could see where I was going, know when someone is waving to me, or even see the crazy outfits people wear. I could watch movies, including the opening trailers. I could pick out my own clothes and see what I really like. I’m not saying my clothes aren’t stylish but I would have my own style. I could keep my eyes open for pictures and wouldn’t feel as though I ruined every picture because my eyes are shut. I could recognize people by their appearance instead of what they sound like. I could see the beauty of the mountains and the stars that have been painstakingly described to me. I could see the difference between a regular milkshake and a fancy one with all the trimmings. I imagine I would be included in more things because I could see them and enjoy them. I could keep my text messages private because I would be able to read them. Which reminds me I would be able to read! I love listening to books but don’t know what it is like to read the words on the page. To hold the book in my hands and see the letters make words into stories.

Photo: a fancy milk shake,  the rim of the glass is graham crakers, poking out of the top is a bright green stra, with a fresh marshmellow and whipped cream with chocolate sauce dripping down the  creating a mountain on top of the chocolate shake.
Fancy milk shake with all the trimmings. Smore's in a glass.

I appreciate though that I am able to see for short periods of time with the help of the glasses. It was undoubtedly a trial-and-error kind of thing. I first borrowed a set from our local TRAID organization. They were the VR glasses gamers use. You know, the ones that slip over your head and are supposed to stay on. You guessed it they did not stay on my full head of curly hair. I put my head down to look at the new tiles in Lisa's new kitchen and they crashed to the floor. Thankfully they were new and covered under warranty. After finding out that my big head would not keep the glasses on the vendor suggested I try the ones I currently have. They have not been without problems but they are better than nothing at all. Like everything I get for my disability, they are costly but needed. Thankfully I have people in my life that love and support me and my need to see.

Photo: picture of me with my Nana.  I chose this picture because she is the one who paid for the glasses.  I was about 6 years old and wearing a yellow sweater for Easter.  Nana is in her sunday bests leaning towards me with our heads touching.
me & Nana

For me, being able to use my eyesight does not change my status of being disabled. My disability is part of who I am and has shaped the person I have become. What I would like to change though, is being able to drive a car because a car gives you so much freedom and independence. Yes, I know they can be expensive, but for the most part, the good out way the bad. A majority of my friends can get up and go. If they want to drive by themselves in their car to get away from other people, they can. Me, I’m stuck if there is no one around to drive me. I have learned to deal with this, but at times it can be very challenging, especially on the weekends.

Photo: Christmas ornament of a grey van with me driving.  On the wall is a Gecko.
Faster there is a gecko after us!

To enable me to enjoy traveling in a car I have a Christmas ornament that looks like our family vehicle, only I am the driver and Lisa is the passenger. We take turns driving the car on vacation. That is to say, we take the ornament and take pictures of the adventure. So far it has been to Florida, Washington, and England. It's fun to imagine that I am driving the car to various tourist places and taking a selfie. That has to be enough for me for now. So my question to you is "If you can change one thing about yourself, what would you change?"

Slide show of pictures: Nana's Christmas tree, on a Plane to Washington State, at the Bocce court at Nana's, on the back of my wheelchair, at Disney Springs, and in England

Thank you for reading until the end!

This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to share the love and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.

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