Lent Post #28: Bias, The Problem As I See It

This piece is a part of my book The Gimpy Monologues. If you like this one, consider giving the book a shot.

My physical limitations are very real, people might think that they get in the way, and sometimes they do. But the real problem is the way you look at me, and the way I look at you. The problem is bias. We go off to college and we take these classes, we read these books, they take us to the various times past and the one that still passes. Every teacher thinks that their discipline can change the world. And they’re only part right. Sociology, psychology, philosophy, and the sciences. All of them hold fundamental keys to human understanding with one fatal flaw. But I’ll get to that.

Wielding these books and we learn the truth, the brutality that’s befallen our forebears in the prime of their youth, we fill with anger welling up inside wanting to take down the power that is, and begin to uprise. Some think we’re pacifists, but we have the mouths and sullied hearts of war makers, gossip mongers, and the monsters that are created in the name of protecting an ideology. We stamp out racism with the same hatred with which it began, instead of looking to our left, then to our right, and realizing we inhabit the same land. I remember that hatred deep inside my heart, it found its insidious way into what I thought was my purest art. I was wrong. I called it ableism, to me the world was divided between those who had what I wish I did and the people who had taken away everything I had to give. I live in a world where Brown gave way to white, and even when that difference was out of sight it was still me versus them… Those who could walk and had all the fun, and me; the guy who was filling his heart with fire and hatred before his life ever begun. And then, I remembered my history, and then all I saw was nothing but a shattered mystery, I could finally see the whole. It didn’t matter now, ‘cause in my mind, I had no goal, except to destroy that which held me down. And I owed to the place who gave me my second cap and gown.

Now it’s time for me to drop poetry, and give you the real message. I sat in these classrooms and listened to these people and I thought they were revolutionary. They told me that I’ve been cheated, they broke down the system that did it, this showed me all the problems, all the greed, and lust, and hate. All the problems with no solutions, and anger with nowhere to go. I joined people who said they were going to change the world and I would do it with them, but I failed to see the exact same hate that welled up within them. Fire is never best fought with fire, mutually assured destruction is not protection, it’s just what it says, a form of assured destruction. A complete annihilation of the soul and psyche. So from that vantage point, I left. Off to fight my own battles, to seek and to understand. To leave this little speech, this little piece of paper, into your tender and capable hands. Don’t seek your identity within a group of hateful people that tell you you’ve been owned by another group, people are just people. If you give into that, you’ll surely be duped. There is no ultimate discipline, it’s not like they say. I wish I could tell you that there was another way, but these battles are hard and to be fought long and with difficulty, but just as much as you say you believe in me, I believe in you completely. Leave the poison behind, take my hand, and walk with me, roll with me, hobble along… We’ll change the world hand-in-hand, woman after woman, and man after man.

Lent Post 27: See the Chair, Don’t be the Chair

Tatyana Mcfadden in a race

This piece was inspired by my wheelchair. It’s a very real thing, and sometimes it even makes a good analogy for social relationships! This piece is a part of my book The Gimpy Monologues. If you like this one, consider giving the book a shot.

See the chair?
Don’t be the chair.
There are many ways to take that
It’s confusing I know
it helps me get around
but some doors I can’t go through
doors both imaginary and real
barriers of life, love, and liberty
see the chair
recognize the difference
don’t be the chair
the thing that inhibits
be the chair
the thing that helps you move
and explore the world around me
until I can get into a vivacious groove
see the chair,
don’t be the chair
the hesitation and limitation
be instead
the mode of support and exploration

Lent Post #26: I’m Not an Inspiration

This piece was inspired by the concept of inspiration porn, the calling of people with disabilities inspirational solely or in part on the basis of their disability. This piece is a part of my book The Gimpy Monologues. If you like this one, consider giving the book a shot.

I’m not inspiration. Let me explain what I mean. I know so many of you out there staring at the future me and thinking that I wrote this play, it made you think in ways you haven’t necessarily thought before, therefore, I must be an inspiration. You might be right, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Everything about what you see right here, right now… That is intended to inspire. What I’m talking about other random people who have no idea who I am, what I’ve done, or for that matter, what I have failed to do. Random strangers constantly come up to me and tell me what an inspiration I am for having overcome such adversity. To them, I say, what the hell kind of adversity are you talking about? Are you talking about the adversity I faced this morning when deciding whether or not I’d like to get out of bed now, or maybe an hour? Last I remember, everyone did that from time to time. For that, I’m not inspiration.

And then, suddenly it dawned on me. They must be talking about the thing everyone talks about, the fact that my body is the source of my adversity. Everyone’s body is the source of their adversity, uncontrollable urges brought about by chemical reactions uncontrollable by the conscious mind, and at best we can only mitigate those, not really control them. Maybe they mean the fact that my body doesn’t necessarily cooperate; if you talk to any woman who’s ever had a period, shall tell you that that has nothing to do with being disabled, because once a month her body refuses to cooperate with her, and yet she still lives with it. But I know you mean, you’d like to congratulate me because I have managed to figure out how to sit on the toilet, use it, and wipe my own ass. So in the words of the little boy in that Adam Sandler movie: I can wipe my own ass, I can wipe my own ass!

It’s thinking like this that is the real disability, it’s a disability born of imposed societal norms reinforced by unthinking masses. I’m normal, I’m human just like you. My struggles are probably no more or less difficult than your own, I cry, I bleed and I smile, just as you do. So I have a favor to ask you, the next time you feel the need to tell me I’m an inspiration, just remember… I’m not inspiration… Unless of course, something I’ve done has moved you to to do something you’ve always wanted to do. In that case, I’m an idiot these failed to realize that I am an inspiration.

Lent Post #25: I AM (A Birthday Poem)

Birthday Cheese

I wrote this piece for a very good friend of mine for her birthday. I thought I’d share it in preparation for the coming year.

She opens her eyes and greets the sun with a warm smile.
Remembering the previous day’s labors and spent miles.
She rushes off to do the day to day, and never forgets to says the things she needs to say.
Because a happy life is lead when all is said and done,
Deep inside she’s thankful and surrounds herself with those who reminds her she’s not the only one.
She glides into a room, with golden hair aglow.
And when you look into her eyes of deep ocean blue,
You see, she’s the sweetest one you’ll know.
For today, we celebrate the day that she declared herself:
I am!
The changes that I want to see in the world!
I am!
More than just your typical girl!
I am!
I am smart, Wise beyond my years!
I am!
Because I have to fight back to the flood of tears!
I am!
Tender and I am strong!
I am!
Not only your best friend, who will be there with you until the end.
I am!
Just that kind of person!
I am!
Amber.
Hear me breathe,
See me live,
Feel me love.

Lent Post #24: I Love You

I love you.
That’s all I wanted to say.
Before other words, thoughts and emotions get in my way.
Before the cultural construct of masculine and feminine interfere,
I have to tell you that because it’s something you need to hear.

Because often in our society,
Love is often associated with a certain kind of passion,
The certain result of a certain kind of sensual reaction.
If people always tell me there are different kinds of love.
But see, I vehemently disagree.
We tend to carve things up artificially,
Based on differences that add up to superficiality.
This is why we always end up wanting more,
Because we haven’t realized that love is all the same at its very core.
I want to hear you talk, not because of what will do later…
Maybe, but just because I enjoy the pleasure of your company.

I love you.
That’s all I wanted to say.
Before other words, thoughts and emotions get in my way
I love you.
Thanks for getting me here,
For helping me work through all the trouble, and the fear.
I love you

Lent Post #23: Currents

Image of river with subtle currents

Currents, like the rivers flow,
Sometimes visible, and at times more like an undertow.
The one who swims upstream will tire,
The swimmer’s heart, like a candle in the rain,
All of life’s trials, and all of life’s pain,
Will eventually cause that beating heart to lose its fire.
The river dweller feels the currents without and within,
And he swims with them such that his flame does not dim.
He matches his stride,
Feeling the spirit of life’s river,
In him does confide.
Currents, like the rivers flow,
Sometimes visible, and at times more like an undertow.
Either way, the river dweller knows,
how to navigate life’s currents,
Even understanding the undertow.

Lent Post #22: Trapped In Creation

Image of imprisoned person

Sometimes, I feel like I can’t write.
Trapped under the weight of potentiality,
Without having a way to move forward.
Ideas run through my head like a river
Without a controlled flow.
Overwhelmed, nearly drowning in my own mental construct.
Cage made of infinity,
I am its prisoner.
I break free to find,
That many hours have passed,
Far too much time.
The words are spilled like blood,
A Picture painted upon the canvas of your reality, and mine.
At the same time, it doesn’t feel real.

Sometimes, I feel like I can’t write.
Bearing the yoke of expectation,
While carrying the burden of modest success upon my back,
Wondering: can I do it again?
I’m a creator,
But I’m trapped in creation.
Sometimes bound by the things I’ve done before,
Wondering if this is the end of my creative life,
If I should tally up my score.
I wonder of their other creators too,
Who are trapped in creation,
Who are beasts of burden,
Bearing the yoke of modest success,
Sometimes bound by the things they’ve done before,
Who spill their blood on the canvas of their work,
All to merge their reality with mine,
Because then, maybe we will be creators,
No longer trapped in creation.