Gratitude is a topic that seems to, inadvertently, rise to the surface of my talks in schools, kinda like the cream that rises to the top of milk, i.e., the great stuff magically appears out of the good stuff, without even trying.
Gratitude. To be thankful. To accept. To appreciate. To love unconditionally.
So . . . in my usual talk of living with disability, overcoming barriers, and becoming a Paralympian, I normally don't specifically reference gratitude. Whilst I hope the sentiment is there, it usually isn't until I get to the Question and Answer section of my talk that the theme of gratitude arises. You see, a student will raise there hand, look nervously about, and then ask tentatively -
"Do you ever wish that you were born normal? I mean, without your disability? You know, with two arms and two legs?"
(The above question is a bit of a mix of the questions that I do get asked - all within the same realm of intent though.)
Let's talk about gratitude!!!
It is guaranteed that I will get asked the question above (or variant) at some point in my Q and A session. It is a question that I love, because it is a question that I have often asked myself. So much so, that I know my answer; I know exactly how I will respond.
"No, I never wish that I was born without my disability, and here is why. If I hadn't been born with my disability I would not be living this amazing journey right now. I would not have the life that I love, I would not have been a Paralympian, I would not have had all of the opportunities that I have been given. I love my life and my life has come about because of who I am, because of my limb deficiency.
I am thankful that I have been born with missing limbs. I am thankful for the unique perspective my disability has afforded me in living in this world. I am thankful for the opportunity to touch peoples lives in such a way that they live their lives better, because of my disability. I am thankful that I was born into the family I was born into, who showed me the way to independence and self belief. I am thankful for the way my life has turned out, because without it being THIS way, I would not be here today to tell my story. In fact I feel privileged to have a disability, because it makes me purposeful in life, motivated, determined to try everything, to live fully, to appreciate life.
Do I wish I was born without my disability?
Many students are often amazed when I say I am glad I was born with my disability. For most people, to be disabled is seen as a negative thing. It takes the realisation that it isn't our bodies or our social positions or our financial situations that give us a life to be grateful for, it is our mindset, our thoughts, our feelings that reflect how we see our lives. My mindset is one of gratitude, let yours be as well.
Gratitude = abundance
Gratitude = love
Gratitude = motivation
Gratitude = self belief