The treasure in disability

For this beginning of 2021, I want to give you what I consider to be the treasure in well-assimilated disability: the ability to find the good and see other stories within our story.

Portrait of the author José "Pepe" Macías with his little son Sebastian

2020 is over, a fateful year for almost all of us and we are starting 2021, which also looks very complex. We can tell many terrible stories: deaths, infections, economic and political crises, businesses that went bankrupt, despair at being locked up, divorces, domestic violence and a thousand other misfortunes.

In Dialogue in the Dark worldwide, about two thirds of our visually impaired colleagues are currently unemployed and four of our venues in the world closed, and the visitors that we could impact were minimal. And maybe more bad news to come!

However, the message that I would like to leave you is that you develop and use your ability to be thankful, your ability to see the good, and your ability to see other stories within your story.

From the disability point of view, I could tell you how terrible it is to go blind at age 6, the despair and sadness my parents experienced, my existential crises, my desire to give up, examples of discrimination and exclusion, the hurtful words that people have said to me...

But you know what? THE great treasure of living an assimilated disability and with dignity is the power to focus on the good, on the other stories that are also happening. I was blind but I overcame leukemia, my parents went through a lot of sadness but there they found a way to teach me strength and hope, I have gone through rejection and exclusion but today I have a job and a family.

Among the misfortunes of 2020, good things also happened: people who were cured of Covid-19, people who kept their jobs, people who could keep in touch thanks to technology, and even finding a vaccine in record time (the fastest in the history).

When you live with a disability and want to achieve a full life, you have no alternative, you have to learn to focus on what you do have and what does work. Focusing on the deficiencies is not going to help you at all. That is the treasure that you can learn and develop.

It is NOT about denying the bad that happens to us. I do not deny my blindness just as you should not deny the bad that may be happening to you. But when we get used to our brain to see the other stories that are also happening, when we get used to the brain to see the light side as well, we are kinder to ourselves, and we prepare ourselves to open up to a reality with many more options and with many more possibilities.

After all, who found treasures without looking for them? Who found treasures shining in the daylight? Value is reaped by those who explore, those who are willing to walk in the dark, those who experience uncertainty and discomfort, those who repeatedly get dirty and fall, those who dig and move walls and rocks...

Take the opportunity and find out what other stories are happening in parallel to your life. Give yourself a bright look and discover something to be thankful.

By Pepe Macías