In order to experience peace of mind and joy in the present moment, trust and have faith that you are always in the right place at the right time. The following short story highlights this point and is taken from Lilly Walter’s book, “One Hand Typing and Keyboarding Manual: With Personal Motivational Messages from Others Who Have Overcome.”
One of my joys and passions is my voice. I love to perform in our local community theaters. My throat became very sore during a particularly grueling show run. It was my first time performing an operatic piece, and I was terrified that I had actually done some damage to my vocal cords. I was a lead and we were about to open. So I made an appointment with my family doctor, where I waited for an hour. I finally left in a huff, went back to work, grabbed a phone book and found a throat specialist close by. Once more, I made an appointment, and off I went.
The nurse showed me in and I sat down to wait for the doctor. I was feeling very disgruntled. I rarely get sick, and here I was, sick when I needed to be healthy. Besides, I had to take time out of my workday to go to two different doctors, both of whom kept me waiting. It was very frustrating. Why do these things have to happen? A moment later the nurse came back in, and said, “May I ask you something personal?”
This seemed odd; what else do they ask you but personal questions in a doctor’s office? But I looked at the nurse and replied, “Yes, of course.”
“I noticed your hand,” she said hesitantly.
I lost half of my left hand in a forklift accident when I was 11. I think it is one of the reasons I didn’t follow my dream of performing in theater, although everyone says, “Gee, I never noticed! You are so natural.” In the back of my mind I thought that they only wanted to see perfect people on stage. No one would want to see me. But I love musical comedies, and I do have a good voice. So one day, I tried out at our local community theater. I was the first one they cast! That was three years ago. Since then, I have been cast in almost everything I tried out for.
The nurse continued, “What I need to know is how has this affected your life.” Never in the 25 years since it happened has someone asked me this. Maybe they’ll say, “Does it bother you?” but never anything as sweeping as, “How has it affected your life?”
After an awkward pause, she said, “You see, I just had a baby, and her hand is like yours. I, well, need to know how it has affected your life.”
“How has it affected my life?” I thought about it a bit, so I could think of the right words to say. Finally, I said, “It has affected my life, but not in a bad way – I do many things that people with two normal hands find difficult. I type about 75 words a minute, I play the guitar, I have ridden and shown horses for years, and I even have a House masters Degree. I’m involved in musical theater, and I am a professional speaker. I am constantly in front of a crowd. I do television shows four or five times a year. I think it was never “difficult” because of the love and encouragement of my family. They always talked about all the great notoriety I would get because I would learn how to do things with one hand that most people had trouble doing with two. We were all very excited about that. That was the main focus, not the handicap.
“Your daughter does not have a problem. She is normal. You are the one who will teach her to think of herself as anything else. She will come to know she is “different,” but you will teach her that different is wonderful. Normal means you are average. What’s fun about that?”
She was silent for a while. Then she simply said, “Thank you” and walked out.
I sat there thinking, “Why do these things have to happen?” Everything happens for a reason, even that forklift falling on my hand. All the circumstances leading up to being at this doctor’s office, and this moment in time happened for a reason.
The doctor came in, looked at my throat and said he wanted to anesthetize and put a probe down it to examine it. Well, singers are very paranoid about putting medical instruments down their throats, especially ones so rough they need to be anesthetized!
I said, “No thanks,” and walked out.
The next day, my throat was completely better.
The ego insists that we can be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Godself reminds us that we are always in the right place at the right time. If you were to open yourself to the possibility of the previous sentence, moments of frustration during the day would turn into moments of peace and gratitude. There are no such things as accidents or coincidences. Could you ever truly believe that a person who is never sick goes to her doctor’s office, leaves after waiting for a little while, goes back to work, picks up the yellow pages, picks a throat specialist, and in that specialist’s office there happens to be a new mother whose baby has only half of one hand? The nurse musters the courage to ask a very personal question, and a perfect answer comes back as if spoken by an angel. Of course Lilly chooses not to have treatment on her throat, which she was obviously concerned enough about to seek a specialist. Yet the next day after refusing treatment, she is perfectly healthy. Is that a coincidence or an accident?
Every situation, when properly perceived, is a gift to all involved. The above situation was as much a gift to Lilly as it was to the nurse, and even to the daughter of the nurse. The last thing Lilly believed during this particular day was that she was about to experience a gift such as this. Everything that was happening to her during the day was simply setting her up for this miracle. Imagine how the nurse’s perception must have shifted after Lilly’s response. Imagine how much the possibility increased that the nurse will raise her child with positive self-esteem now that she has seen a real life example of what her daughter can do and who she can become. Imagine all the self-imposed boundaries that Lilly expanded for this young mother and child. And, for the first time in her life, Lilly had the opportunity to answer a very basic question for herself, which was: how had this “disability” impacted her life? Was it really a disability, as society defines it, or was it a gift, as God defines it? Understand that what the ego’s world defines as a disability, God defines as a gift.
There are no such things as disabilities. Disabilities, and terms such as these are creations of the ego, all made in an effort to further separate you from your brother and sister. It uses such terms to make you feel more fortunate and more able than your brother or sister. The God-self would remind you that regardless of physical manifestation, you are no more or less fortunate or able than any brother or sister. Children are not born with disabilities by accident. People are not in wheelchairs because of accidents, and Lilly did not lose half her left hand by accident. These were all events the individuals chose, and decisions they made in order to learn, teach and consciously expand.
You, at a higher level of consciousness before being born or during your life, chose such events and circumstances. In actuality, they are not disabilities or accidents but gifts. Pure and simple, they are gifts you have offered yourself in order to grow through lessons that can best be learned through such experiences. So next time you see a person in a wheelchair or an individual or child with a “birth defect,” do not feel sorry for them but understand that these are courageous individuals who have chosen their paths, just as you have chosen yours. Some have chosen to walk, others have not; some have chosen two arms, others have chosen one. We all have our individual lessons to learn, and we all individually understand ourselves well enough to know which specific circumstances and experiences are most useful to our personal growth.
Society has tried to teach you that two arms are better than one, that walking is better than not walking. Remember, though, that society had also taught us that slavery was acceptable and that white was better than black. As we know, teachings about slavery and discrimination based on the color of a person’s skin are wrong. Some day we will learn that walking is not any better than not walking and that two of anything is not better than one of anything.
If you can walk, then that is what will best serve your growth. If you’re in a wheelchair, then that is what will best serve your growth. Walking, in truth, is as much a gift as not being able to walk. Being black is as much a gift as being white. Be grateful for every second of the day, for you have given yourself exactly what you need. There will come a day when these thoughts will be natural to all of us, yet until that day comes, let them be natural to you.