Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why do I always need to be brave?

Yesterday, Polish  disability magazine "Integracja" published an interview with me on their website. I wanted for it to be mostly about the Munich conference where I was ask to deliver keynotes later that week, but as always, we ended talking about me and my story. What drove me to America. Our conversation went on for two hours. My story, my life choices, that I would never force on anyone. There's currently one comment under that text that uses profanity and attacks me. In a nutshell it says: "He [is saying silly things]. I have been in a wheelchair for 18 years, and I work-- Poland is for brave and motivated people". As if moving far from home, far from my family without any support wasn't brave enough. I've done the "wheelchair in Poland" bit for twenty five years. I think that's plenty. What he may also not understand is that I left the homeland  ten years ago and quite possibly the country I know and the country he knows are probably two different places. Why do I always have to be the brave one? Why am I expected to just settle for one life or another simply because I was born somewhere. Why do I always need to be on the forefront of disability inclusion or forging paths for others like me? Why should I simply accept reality, limited mobility, places I can't get to, because that's life? I'm not planning to be a martyr or a saint. I just want to live my life and be happy. I don't feel the need to explain myself to anyone. And quite frankly I didn't even know how limited I had been all these years before I moved somewhere else. My parents did the pioneering bit: elementary school where I wasn't wanted, high school where although I was- still forced others to carry me up two floors to my classroom and university, where although the paratransit bus made me more mobile I still depended on my parents to a lesser degree. I think I paid my dues. Don't tell me how to live my life, I like it the way it is. Thank you. Telling me what I should be doing is not only offensive, but assumes plenty about my mobility level and disability. Back home we call it "Polish hell"- the odd desire to pick on someone and bring them down after they get some degree of happiness. What I don't get is why it must be a discussion about me, my morals and character and not the surroundings I felt chased away from? We don't all feel the same. We don't hurt the same and tolerate the same things. Why can't people just be happy that I found a place that feels a little bit more like mine. Why is someone so offended that where I am is better for me than where I was before that they have to go vent on the Internet? Be and let be. Let me tell you something. There are no prizes in life for being that kind of brave. I could have sustained but I wanted to thrive. Does that make me a bad person?

1 comment:

  1. Hello. Read "Integracja", am also wheelchair-bound when outdoors. Think alike. Will soon write you mogÄ™. Marek from Gniezno, Poland