You baby boomers, able-bodied and disabled, should recognize this from Romper Room!
Mr. Do-Bee was an oversized bumblebee who taught the children proper manners. His sentences began with, “Do Bee good boys and girls for your parents!” Of course, there was a Mr. Don’t Bee to teach what not to do.
At the end of each show, Miss Fran (?) held up her magic mirror, a hand–held mirror without a mirror, and looked (into the camera, directly at you) to see if you were being good and what you were doing? She always called out the name of the children she saw in “televisionland,” saying, “I can see Johnny and Frankie and Susie and….”
When she held up her magic mirror, my anticipation swelled, only to be deflated when my name wasn’t among the seen. I secretly wanted Miss Fran to see me through her magic mirror. I wanted her to tell me that I, too, was being good. She never did; nor did anyone else, until I was in high school.
I was the middle child between a much older, athletically-talented, popular big brother and a younger baby sister. Not to upset the family status quo, I learned early to take care of myself, to be quiet, and to not make waves. Independence and self-sufficiency became my emotional BandAids.
Unconsciously, we all adopt coping mechanisms for our particular family dynamics. Sadly, we subconsciously continue our adaptations to environmental, emotional, mental, and physical circumstances with the exact coping behaviors established in childhood.
Toni Morrison brought a subliminal emotional message to my mental attention when she challenged with this question: “Does your face light up when your child (or anyone, for that matter) comes into the room?”
We come into this world with a need for parental love and approbation; we need to feel that we’re seen. To complicate this issue, the able-bodied–who haven’t dealt with their own rejection issues–look over and through the disabled. I’ve experienced this too often, when they pass someone in a wheelchair, pushing a walker, or just different, in a mall, restaurant…wherever.
It isn’t only children that notice if our gaze meets theirs with joy and pleasure, OR if it’s a critical, judgmental scan scrutinizing outward appearance, dress, hygiene, and behavior. It’s in these instances that we conclude: we’re not special. The beauty of who we are isn’t seen.
Although I was already beaten down by poor life choices, felt stagnant…dead-in-the-water, and helpless of ever digging out of my rut, the abrupt juxtaposition of SCI into my active, appearance-driven lifestyle ushered in positive waves of inner transformation. For me, it was a double whammy.
Not only did I notice other’s avoidance of my being seen, I began to see that my manners resembled those of Mr. Don’t Bee. I wasn’t patient, kind, and grateful to others.
Just as the constant, faithful flow of water breathtakingly sculpts the earth (or hideously erodes landscapes), life interruptions (SCI, disease, illness, depression, comparison) should be opportunities to smooth down our sharp edges for beautifying change, in spite of other’s “sharp edges.”
“The constant dripping of water sculpts the stone.” is a paraphrase of the Latin proverb, “Gutta cavat lapidem.”
Rumi got to the point: “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?” Again, a double whammy: adjusting to our own insecurities, and other’s insecurities concerning us!
If you’re not making character changes as the result of “whatever interruption” in your life, you’re not allowing it to grind away your rough edges. AS WELL, you must resist interpreting other’s insecurities as your identity.
If only you would embrace the irritating rub to mirror your polish.
P.S. For a food for thought smorgasbord of how disability nudged me to smooth my rough edges, nibble on my book, HOW TO BE THE BEST YOU http://booklocker.com/books/6811.html