Editorial note: We're happy to welcome a guest blogger today, Marshal Myers. Marshal volunteers with our Any Dream Will Do group. He is an avid writer and also has cerebral palsy. He joins us today to discuss some of his experiences as a person with a disability.
All my life I have known that I am different. I am in a wheelchair and couldn’t run and play with the other kids, but it wasn’t until I was twelve that I discovered what an impact my physical situation would have on my life. Up until that age, I had never felt that my physical limitations would keep me from doing all that I wanted to do and being all that I wanted to be. I grew up wanting to be a fireman, a secret agent, a football player; I even had the quixotic dream of being a chivalrous knight. As I grew older, I could identify more and more with Helen Keller, who said:
“I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.”
I remember one night when I saw the movie What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? I was filled with a sense of uneasiness as I watched Leonardo DiCaprio play the part of a teenager with an intellectual impairment. The next day, I was with my mother at the grocery, thinking how I was like Arnie, the character portrayed in the movie. I would always be a burden to my family and a step below the “regular” kids. I finally broke down in the car and began sobbing. I poured out my heart to my mother, and she, in her loving wisdom, told me that although I was physically disabled, I could still do great things. She told me that she knew when I was born that, one day, I would have to come to the realization that I was different and would lead a different life. It remained to me to decide how to handle it. I could choose to spend the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself, or I could focus on the things that I could do.
Since then, I have decided that what I want to do is bring joy to people through my cheerful demeanor. I wake up each day with a positive, can-do attitude. I smile in the face of challenges, and I determine to do the best that I can with what I have been given.
Helen Keller spent years learning how to communicate and speak with the help of Annie Sullivan. Although she felt frustrated many times, she persevered and became one of the greatest inspirational figures of her day. She chose not to dwell on her limitations, but to work hard and find joy in everyday life.
Even though I have felt discouraged by many unfortunate circumstances, I do what my mother and Keller encouraged me to do. I do not dwell on my limitations, but focus on what I have been blessed with, and what I can do to help others. I never let my fountain of joy run dry, and because of that, it overflows and spills into the hearts of others.
Keep up with everything going on at The George Center by liking us on Facebook!