At the beginning of this week, Mr. Glenn told us to meet in the drama room on Friday for class and to wear clothes that we wouldn’t mind getting a little dirty in. I began to think about Mr. Glenn, his style of teaching, and what exactly he could be thinking up for Friday’s class, but I drew a blank and I was left to wait and see. I don’t think I had ever been in the drama room but I knew that it was a huge black room with little furniture in it and what I believe to be a useless light grid hanging from the ceiling. Because of my prior knowledge of such drama room I began to think we would be getting our clean on or something like that; but as Friday’s class rolled around the great mystery was revealed and we were told that we would be having a class period dedicated to the crippled (or disabled, or physically impaired, or whatever you want to call them).
I never really thought about what it would be like to be a cripple until this week in class. We read an essay entitled “On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs. In her essay, Mairs writes about what her life is like as a cripple and how everything she does is more difficult because of her disability. Reading this essay made me stop and think about what it would be like to be handicapped. I thought about my life and my schedule and how I could ever possibly manage being confined to a wheelchair twenty-four seven. I don’t think I could do. I guess you could say that I take my legs and arms for granted but I could never imagine not being able to use them. I rely on them for pretty much everything and I know that life would be extremely hard without the ability to use them. On Friday, we watched several movies that chronicled the lives of people with disabilities and I found all of these movies to be emotional and inspiring. “My Left Foot” was a movie about Christy Brown’s life and his struggle with cerebral palsy. The only part of his body that he could control and use was his left foot. His strength, courage, and determination to overcome and fight against his disability was awe-inspiring.
We also watched a movie about a man who had been paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a bed after a tragic diving accident. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like not being able to feel or move your body, especially if the paralysis occurred after birth. If a person is born paralyzed (I think that can happen) then that is all they know and they do not know what it is like to be able to move. But if a person becomes paralyzed during their life, their whole life changes. I thought about the late actor Christopher Reeve and how he went Hollywood’s Golden Boy to a quadriplegic in the matter of minutes. We take life for granted and it isn’t until we lose a part of it that we realize how fortunate we are.