“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become” – Carl Jung
I have reached a spot I was never suppose to reach, retirement. Having never planned intellectually for any life past 65 it’s time to reflect. Now is the time for me to see my past will help or hinder me as I attempt to move into the future.
An experience can be an anchor or a propeller and as I approach the mist of senior-hood I am interested to see what mine have become. So to those of you who are new to my meanderings welcome while those who are returning and know how I like to speak my mind while attempting to be humorous and insightful, welcome back.
The foundations of my posts are built from the perspective of a polio survivor. Polio, that disorder we eliminated almost fifty years ago in Canada but lingers on with every survivor. Those thousands of individual who have spend a very non-traditional life in a very traditional environment. Those same individuals who grew up in the shadows at a time when Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver ruled the air waves. Those were the early days of this new world of information and the beginning of the age of electronic media.
As a brief introduction I survived polio at age three and grew up walking on crutches. Contrary to what many people tell me I prefer to see myself as architecturally impaired. Having never known any other way of life, I avoid labels like disability. I am very aware of the importance of words and semantics. I am who I am and a disability does not define me otherwise I would have to confront society on the fact that my biggest disability is YOUR attitude. With over sixty years to develop and nurture my own insights from the perspective of that round peg in the square hole.
My thoughts and comments are based on the experiences I have had throughout my life. My independence has always been of the utmost importance to me and I have lived my life accordingly. I have always worked and been responsible for my own life. I have been married, am a father, now a proud grandfather and I have done this on my own like most members of society.
Contrary to popular belief there are no magic government benefits programs out there that contribute to much of a life with dignity. If that was your plan you did yourself and if not then those “help” programs are nothing more than poverty traps. You may get some support but you give up a lot of independence and often dignity.
As a child I spend almost eight years in a children’s hospital because that was the way it was done in the 50’s and 60’s. Terms like inclusion and accessibility were not even known then let alone practiced. Between my childhood, my experience working in the health care system for half of my career followed by twenty years as a policy analyst I am acutely aware of how and why so many social programs evolved over the past 50 years..
One thing my polio did contribute to was my life long commitment to the principles of social activism. I say that with some confidence because I am but one of six siblings however I am the only one of those siblings who has a passion about social activism and social justice. In fact some of my siblings don’t even recognize the concept of social justice. The more I try to impress it on them the more alienated I became from a family.
I have developed many of my own insights on those developments from the perspective of someone who could benefit from the direction those social programs have taken Canadian society. I have watched and participated in many of these developments which is reflected in many of my thoughts and comments.
So sit back and visit on occasion to see what craziness I am getting into on any given day. For the record my mantra is “OUR LIVES BEGIN TO END THE DAY WE BECOME SILENT ABOUT THINGS THAT MATTER”
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