broken but not crushed

Helping each other live successfully and abundantly in the face of brokenness.

Location: Columbus, Central Ohio, United States

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Dear Fellow travelers,

I had an interesting thing happen to me yesterday. I was in my woodworking shop when a friend stopped by just to talk. After watching me work a few minutes he said “Dwight, do you realize that in this space you have completely redefined “normal”?

I just looked at him with what must have been a quizzical look on my face. He added, “Think about it. You have done more than adapt a place where you use tools to build things. You have so completely transformed every detail that a normal person - you know, someone who can walk - is as uncomfortable in this environment as you must feel out in the rest of the world. The only way I could work in this shop would be to get in a wheelchair and chase you around in circles! You have, at least in this small part of the world, redefined ‘normal’. Out there (pointing outside) normal is one thing, but you walk through this door and it is something completely different.”

Wow. I really didn’t intend to rewrite a part of the dictionary. And surely I didn’t plan on friends or family feeling uncomfortable or out of place in my shop. But when I think about it, he’s right. I really have redesigned the interior space of my workshop to fit a man in a wheelchair, and I’ve included every detail – the height of things like the front door lock, light switches, the workbench and the operational area of every single power tool. And it’s not only the height of things. I’ve redesigned the tools themselves – new tables, fences, stands and stops – all made so that a man in a wheelchair feels right at home. It would be backbreaking for a person of normal mobility to enter my little world. Truth is, I can’t imagine they’d last long - all the bending would likely cause such pain that it would force them to stop.

Redefining “normal”. That’s a pretty good definition of a broken person’s lifestyle. All of those details like light switches, thresholds, door widths, and stair wells are monumental challenges for those with mobility issues. And for those of my friends who are visually impaired you must just adore those folks who feel the need to move furniture around just for fun. That must simply drive you crazy! Within minutes of my first wheelchair arrival I came face to face with the need to redefine normal - and there’s hardly a day goes by that I don’t need to continually redefine it again and again.

We all do. May I congratulate you on your ability to change the very definition of such a commonly used word in your own world. Erma Bombeck notwithstanding, normal really IS more than a setting on your dryer. It is the very “stuff” of living.

And if you haven’t done the legwork (an interesting choice of words for a guy in a wheelchair, don’t you think) to change at least a small piece of your world so you can feel right at home – get busy! Don’t just sit there with your teeth in your mouth, go change something. Make it work for you, make it ooze with your personality –put simply, make it your own. Try to get along with the rest of your world, but you know, it really doesn’t matter if the rest of the world is not completely comfortable there. Face it, we’re not all that comfortable out in the “normal” world either. Go find a spot and transform it into YOUR spot.

Then settle in and be at peace, if only for a few moments at a time.

Carpe Deum!!


Post a Comment

<< Home