Turn the Wheel… And Back Again
Many of you know that I work part time in the disability sector, what you may not know about me is that for the past 8 years or so I have been experiencing what I call ‘my turns'(You will see the connection in a minute). I have had all sorts of test for this EEG, cat scans, MRI, been prodded, poked and finally pronounced that they are silent migraines. Which means, in terms of my body, that I don’t get the head aches but I certainly get the symptoms. When I have a full blown ‘turn’ I cannot move my body or speak. Which ever position I lay down in, is what I stay in for as long as it takes for the switch to flick and I am back in the land of the moving. I can hear and understand everything, I simply cannot get my body to co-operate. This can last anywhere between 20 mins and 3 hours. What I always think about when I feel trapped in my body, when I can’t wipe a tear or snot away, or remove the blankets because I am too warm, or shift positions because my hand is starting to hurt; are the beautiful children I see at school who are like this 24/7. Those cerebral palsy kids that are reliant on us for everything. What those turns have done is made me vastly more aware of noticing the little things with these students.
I can remember at teachers college doing an assignment where I had to spend an entire outing blind folded – from getting dressed to eating, to going to the toilet. I tell you it was scary and enlightening. For example, when someone told me we were coming to some stairs I immediately asked are they going up or down and how many? I would never have thought that before. The old adage of don’t judge anyone until you have walked in their shoes is certainly one that we can take to heart. However I would like to add to that…
If you can imagine that we are all standing on the outer rim of a stationary wheel with a light in the middle on the hub, then from a northerly position we would be adamant that the light is south from us. And if we were standing on the rim in the south position then we would be adamant that the light is north. However if we then turned the wheel we would begin to see not only the light but each other from completely different perspectives, many different perspectives. And when we returned to our position in the north or south, we would then know that we were neither right or wrong, just different and that in reality we all stand in the light.
It is the same for when we look at people with a disability or from a different culture, race, religion, sex, age, social circle. If we could turn the wheel and then back, how much more compassion, empathy, understanding and tolerance would we have. We don’t have to stay in that position if it doesn’t feel right but we can certainly create space for allowing and accepting.
Next time you are having difficulty with someone, or are just bewildered by another’s behaviour or thoughts, turn the wheel and back again and see if it gives you fresh insight and a wider ‘comfort circle’ to dwell in.