Ok, so you lost your keys, you have looked everywhere… twice… and still cannot find them… then they miraculously appear in the one place you are certain you have looked the closest… And we have all done it. Or you are panicking for the misplaced purse and have checked all the likely and unlikely places, yet it turns up somewhere you really checked diligently, but honestly didn’t expect it to be…
It makes me wonder sometimes just how much we miss because we are simply not looking, even when we genuinely think that we are. And what happens when we honestly think that we are doing our very best and cannot do better, so that we shroud ourselves in complacency?
How many of us actually dare to look at ourselves and realise we are behaving and believing blindly and through habit? We do not dare any more, the dragon sleeps quietly before the fire, the armour rusts in a corner. The spirit of the explorer and adventurer we once were has retired from the fray. We are comfortable and why should we risk upsetting the status quo?
But take it from another perspective and it is not so scary to contemplate.
It is common knowledge that my eldest son was left severely injured and close to death, but survived to fight his way back to health. He spent several months in a rehab unit designed to ‘enable’. Yet we found that far from enabling, the ethos of the place, excellent though it was, actually held him back. The real recovery only began when he came home and we had the freedom to be unconventional and unrealistic.
Now it is, admittedly, a fine line to tread between substitution and restitution in these circumstances. My son and I were talking about this again today. It was, of course, early days in his long and as yet incomplete recovery. But almost everything in the rehab unit, from the physical therapies to the psychological input was geared to ensuring that patients accepted the inevitability of their disabilities and to teaching them how to live with them. There was never any mention of fighting back, of possibility, hope, or the difference strength, courage and determination can make.
Yet this is, undoubtedly, one of the best rehab units in the country. We fought to get him there. They are genuinely encouraging, obviously doing their best, efficiently and effectively teaching strategies to allow patients to learn how to adapt to disability in the harsh and unusual world they will have to face. They would, I think, be horrified if they ever realised how negative their stance can be.
Had we accepted what we were taught there, there is no doubt my son would be constantly wheelchair bound and in need of care, instead of getting around his own home on his own two feet, doing extraordinary things every day.
Had my son believed himself permanently wheelchair-bound, he would be. He would not have sought to push beyond his limitations if he had recognised them as such. If we limit ourselves by believing we already have all we can hope for, how can we stretch beyond our limits? Why would we seek to?
It brings everything into question. But unless we press the limits, unless we stretch and expand them, unless we can accept at least the possibility that we may be wrong, or blinkered, or wrapped in our own habitual and familiar vision, we will never even see the prison bars we have constructed, let alone be able to break free of them.