I originally wrote and publshed this piece more than six months ago. Since then, much has changed in our world and economy. In re-reading this, it seemed much more relevant today than it did then. I hope you agree.
What prompted me to write this was not my disability. It was prompted by the current financial crisis that our nation, and our world is experiencing.
Sometimes we have to make adjustments that we never dreamed of making. Certainly, with my disability, that is what I have had to do. I am not alone. There are more than 50,000,000 people in this country who live with some kind of disability, many less severe and many more severe than my own. Every one of us has survived.
Many of my closest friends are struggling to make ends meet. Their world’s are changing and they are wondering what the future holds for them. Some of them have lost their homes and businesses. Some have moved to new cities. Many are wondering how will they pay their rent? Buy food? What will they do for a living? Very real, very difficult questions, all of which can be answered.
The simple and seemingly trite answer is that when the world changes, we need to change too. Because of my disability, I already know this to be true.
When I gave up driving more than three years ago, I wondered if I would sense a loss of independence. When I had to give up working more than a year ago, I worried about how we would make ends meet. As my disease progresses, I wonder what the future will be like.
What I have learned and know is that with whatever challenge comes my way, it will be dealt with. I will make the necessary changes and adjustments in order to get by. I will survive this ‘change’, because survival is what we do. It is a most basic human instinct.
The difficulty for those caught up in our financial crisis may be that they have not yet learned what I have from living with a disability. That is, to trust that they will make whatever changes are required in order to survive. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it painful? Yes. But it can be done and will be done.
Many of us remember the stories that our parents and grandparents told us about their growing up. My mother did not have a bedroom and slept on the floor of the dining room until she was teenager. My father-in-law is a Holocaust survivor and I won’t begin to tell you about what he endured against extraordinary odds. Many of us know stories about the Great Depression, with its breadlines and soup kitchens. God willing, we will never have to endure what others have. And yet, for a great number of people in this country, things may get worse before they get better.
Why am I saying all of this? I am saying it because we are survivors. It is a basic instinct that we all have. We will each do whatever we need to in order to survive. Will we need to get new jobs? Will we need to move? Will we become or take in roommates? Will we ask for help? We can and will if we need to.
It may not be pretty, or nice, or comfortable or easy to do. But all of us will do what we need to in order to survive. It is my hope that knowing that and trusting that is true helps us get through some of our most challenging times.
No one planned for this economic crisis. No one plans to live with a disability. But we do, because we are survivors.
Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.