Strong In My Purpose
I choose the big picture! And I choose it for a solid reason. The more we all know that we’re filled with spirit/Spirit, the less projection and small thinking will continue to dominate much of human experience. I’m talking about words and assumptions.
Many blind people hate the idea of me saying I am an “inspirational speaker.” Why? Because many sighted people can’t get passed the idea that a blind person just does their job, just happens to be good at what they do. They, and I, are not inspirational just because we are blind. I can understand feeling inspired when someone’s life is different and it has an impact on you. The problem is, when it persiss, and it comes off as condescending, it’s like making a doll out of someone, or keeping them as an eternal child. It’s often a statement such as: “Oh you inspire me, but I don’t see how you can do this or that and so I won’t give you a chance, won’t hire you, won’t date you etc. I’ll just admire and adore you as an icon, as a doll. I’ll endlessly ask questions and keep you at a distance. It gets old. So I can understand why many blind people detest this. I finally had to reconcile that if someone feels inspired over menial things, it’s a start. If they stay stuck there well, I can’t change it. I just won’t likely choose to spend much time around those people. I can’t let that stop me, or hold me back from expressing it the way I see and experience life.
I decided to call myself an inspirational speaker long ago, after hearing Wayne Dyer talk about the word inspire. “To feel with Spirit,” “to fill with life.” What do we mean when we’re asked for an expiration date of a credit card? “When does it expire?” When is the life gone out of that card? It used to be when calling Patient Information at a hospital, if someone died, we were told, “They expired.” The life on this human journey was extinguished. So the opposite, to inspire then, is to fill with life, with spirit / Spirit!
For many years I’ve been quite clear that I reject the term “motivational speaker.” I am NOT, I despise that term! I want you, all of us, to be internally driven, not externally driven. I’m not here to “GET” you to change. I’m not here to “MAKE you do anything. And I’m also not here to only help and teach, motivate or inspire other blind people. I don’t choose to merely accept a cookie cutter lifestyle.
It’s time to work together! It’s time to move beyond us and them thinking. Years ago when I worked in a role to coordinate disabled student services faculty would often say: “It’s good you’re here for them.” I would say, “No, I’m here for you and all of us to be here to work together.”
Do I, should I teach and help other blind people? Maybe. That’s my business, and I won’t buy into being stereotyped. Should women only work in the kitchen? Should men only work with tools? Let’s get beyond the isms: sexism, ableism, racism! Let’s stop pigeon-holing each other! I am here for blind people, understanding the human experience we share from the lack of vision that continues to thwart and keep any of us in a box. I don’t want limited thinking to stop any human beings, not you, not me, not any of us.
I was glad to hear that Esther Hicks also delineates the same understanding between inspiration and motivation as I do. I don’t like motivational hype. I don’t like coaching babble. Sorry good coaches out there. It’s not for me.
Esther Hicks describes the difference between inspiration and motivation to say that inspiration is where we find it within us, right where we are to change. Motivation is where we are moved by something external. I like to feel inspired from within, and help others to also find this spark. It’s a spark to reframe, to shift thinking from new understanding that grows from within!
In the book “The Little Prince,” the main character says “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” This has nothing to do with a blind person being inspiring. This is a call to be awake for all of us to a larger vision beyond the human day-to-day riff raff. Do I say this because I have come out of tough time? Sure. And so do we all! Henry David Thoreau says we humans “live lives of quiet desperation.” I think most of us, not just people with disabilities, jockey in a dance between isolation and violation. We all get egg on our faces. Our lives are sometimes a mess. We all have many dark nights of the soul. We all feel misunderstood, frightened, unappreciated, have moments where we wonder where we’re going or if we make any sense. Blind people don’t have a corner on these experiences, nor a corner on coming out of them. Is my hearing better than yours? No. Unless you want to say that because I pay attention to mine differently. But that’s something you can choose to do any given moment and day. Life ushers us in the directions we need to go. Our focus changes as we’re nudged to pay attention differently just to survive. That’s just human experience, survival skills. And still it’s not for me to assume anyone’s specific experience or ability based on mine or my world view.
People often say “Oh, you have so much courage!” Really? When you get up in the morning and go about your routine, does it take courage? Maybe some days, depending on what you’re feeling and thinking. But do the routine tasks take courage? Probably not usually. Neither do they for me. Once when someone expressed me having courage for cooking or crossing the street, I said “No,” and asked, “Do you want to know what takes courage for me? Daring to be myself! Daring to disagree as one voice in a room full of people who see a situation differently. It takes courage to say “I can do that,” when someone is sure I can’t or shouldn’t. It takes courage to say, “I want to experience that even if I’m not sure if I can manage it or not. It takes courage to say, “no, please respect my boundaries,” or, “I need closeness, so I can feel vulnerable.” It takes courage to be human, and to express strong spiritual stance, even if you don’t see or agree with what’s true for me. Courage for cooking, traveling, living alone at times, moving to new places, courage to speak publicly? These things are natural for me.
All kindness is not ableism. It’s one thing to offer, and another to take control with lots of assumptions.
So now, so much of what people say is a reaction to what others don’t like. We can’t say gay, where gay used to mean happy. We can’t love rainbows because rainbows now represent a gay symbol. I shouldn’t say see and vision because they milk some inspirational thinking sighted people are stuck in. I shouldn’t say inspirational speaker because that sounds like I’m going to just give the basics of how capable blind people are. So I shouldn’t say Merry Christmas either. Well tough! I’m not going to limit my words because they’re misunderstood by blind and sighted people. And yet, I do believe politically correct language is important and does have its place. Damn right! If you only refer to God as he, I will reframe it. And I will speak as inclusively as possible, to include all faiths, all belief systems, including atheism. And if there’s something on my TV that says, “If you want this product, call the number on your screen, I’ll consider that offensive and know that someone is missing the mark. I’ll assume you don’t want my money or my business. And that’s just fine. There’s too much consumerism out there anyway. I’m not interested in anyone trying to GET me to buy their product. 😊 My take, so much marketing is motivational, more concerned about numbers than cultivating and maintaining good customer relationships. Going forward, I believe it will be the businesses that care about people, that foster and maintain good customer relationships that will survive.
I like the Dianna Ross song: “All For One.”
“All for one and one for all. You live, you give, you have a ball
There’s no need to live on an island ‘Cause everyone here respects your opinion
It all adds up to, it’s your strength we need. So get behind and push, if you don’t want to lead
‘Cause it’s all for one and one for all. You live, you give, you have a ball
I don’t know your future plans, but divided I’m sure you will not stand
I said, ?All that to say there’s an easier way. If it’s love that we share then there’s no debt to pay.
‘Cause we are all down here under the sky. Won’t you try? Won’t you try?
We’re all down here. You’re not alone. You’ve been pushing and pulling and shoving since the day you were born so let’s try.
All for one and one for all. You live, you give, you have a ball
And a smile will appear on your face. ‘Cause suddenly, suddenly the world is a beautiful place
‘Cause it’s all for one and one for all. You live, you give, you have a ball…”
Songwriters: Nickolas Ashford / Valerie Simpson
All for One lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
We’re all in this together. As David Roth says in his song: “Don’t Should On Me,” “Don’t should on me and I won’t should on you!” Such a great song!
Let’s stop shoulding on ourselves and on each other. About that word “should.” Regina Ryan, co-author of “The Wellness Workbook, first edition back in the early 80s said, “the bulk of the word shoulder is should.” People would come in for massage and complain about their shoulders. I would say, “ah yes, the (shooders!” (to pronounce it like should with ers on it.) shoulders.” They didn’t know what I was saying, and I would say, “the bulk of the word shoulder is SHOULD.” So why do so many people have sore and tight shoulders? Could it be all of that shoulding going on? I digress… 😊
My part in the grand orchestra is to play with inclusive language, seeking to harmonize and blend with all of the other sounds and expressions, rhythms, instruments, ways of playing and being. I choose to inspire, not because I’m blind, because I’m a spiritual being living a human experience. And I choose to live with inner vision because that is where I live. Let’s stop thinking and segmenting people and life in us and them thinking and embracing all of us together in this thing we call life!