Editor’s note: We just celebrated the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In honor of the significance of this day, VisionAware’s International Correspondent, Maribel Steel, from Australia, shares her personal reflections on accepting life with a visual disability (she has retinitis pigmentosa) by observing her granddaughter’s young wisdom in living life in the moment.
More Than Child’s Play
Have you noticed how the little people in your life know the true meaning of living in the moment? When we take time out of our busy schedule to stop and observe how children play, we will notice how their ‘chaotic’ activity is experiencing everything in the present moment. Children can show us how being in tune with the gift of time is being in tune with life itself. My three-year-old granddaughter surprised me when I noticed the lesson she was teaching me – of accepting life as it comes. It was during a holiday with my daughter and my granddaughter, Silver when I was reminded how being with a small child can be both laboriously slow and athletically fast. Being with a small child challenges your energy level, mind and patience yet brings incredible joy. I noticed that Silver’s day consisted in appreciating minute by minute distractions. Yet, in allowing herself the freedom to explore the newness of everything, she was being fully present to the activity of the moment. She accepted everything as it happened.
From Annoyance to Acceptance
My daughter and I often found ourselves laughing at the way our plans were diverted to following Silver’s non-planned agenda. She stopped to admire what seemed to us to be every single bug and leaf on the sidewalk, one by one by one. When we chose to let go of controlling the time it was taking to walk to the café, our annoyance shifted to one of acceptance. In making light of being led by our cheerful toddler, we could relax into the moments with her too. When we finally arrived at the café, I decided to flow with acceptance too. Silver sat looking, with wide-eyes observing everything in the world around her at each moment. She pointed at the noisy bus passing by, then squealed with delight seeing a pigeon pecking at a doughnut by her chair. She swung around in her seat to contemplate what she might do next with the leftover piece of squishy banana in her hand – and smiled at me. Her happiness was pure and simple. In that moment, I saw the gift of acceptance as she did. Her joy was in the small detail of experiencing life. My granddaughter was never ahead of the present moment. She was not planning what she and her mommy were going to do in ten minutes time. She saw the plane flying high in the sky and then knocked over the ice cubes in her drink. She threw herself down on the floor in a tantrum and was swiftly laughing again with a pick-me-up cuddle with her Mom.
On Life’s Rollercoaster
It’s a rollercoaster ride with a young child, swing right up there in a burst of laughter, dive down there in the pit of despair. Children take us on this ride of our lives too – to experience every moment as it happens without judging it as good or bad-it just is! By the end of our day, I realized the precious gift my granddaughter had given me in her young wisdom: to see that being blind or visually impaired requires us to take life as it comes too, in order to deal with challenges in a more relaxed way. The ups and downs are inevitable but it is how we choose to embrace them that helps us ride life’s challenges with greater flair and ease. If we can let go of our plans every now and then, we will discover the gift of acceptance.
Joy Comes Step by Step
Having a disability of any kind is a life-teacher. Obviously we can’t behave like young children in every moment of our day. But we can stop to give ourselves the precious gift of time when life is getting way ahead of us. Whatever life-challenge or stress you may face, remember that it is taking time out to proceed step by step that will bring you a sense of peace and joy in the moment. In celebrating people with a disability worldwide, please share your thoughts on how you take life’s moments and the wisdom you may have gained from the little people in your life.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on grandparenting in our Blind Parenting series.
Other Posts on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities
International Day of Disabilities Celebrated
Living and Working in Siberia as a Person with a Disability