How many of you watch that show? I think it’s an interesting concept, but not as thought-provoking as it could be.
In college, a group of us used to read “The Book of Questions” until the wee hours of the morning in an effort to get to know each other. I mean, really know each other. The scenarios in the text were insightful and if answered truthfully, could tell you a lot about the responder. It was like the intellectual’s Truth or Dare or a free amateur psych evaluation, but still a better alternative to the cheesy, not-so-hidden-camera-laden “gotcha” show.
Yesterday, a dear friend of mine was delivered life-changing news: that she may lose her vision in the near future. I responded as I always do — prayerful and positive-thinking, but I felt like I let her down. I gave the best encouragement that I could, but I allowed my own selfish, introspective thoughts to fumble my flow.
For the first time, I found myself comparing my loss to another’s: my loss of feeling to her possible loss of vision. Which is more detrimental? Is there a better or worse? I couldn’t believe that I was prioritizing one sense over another. In college, it was a question in a book. Words on a page. Ink on paper. Now, it’s my life. Her life. Every second of every minute of every hour of every day. As a dancer, losing my ability to dance with my legs is just as important as this bookworm losing her ability to read with her eyes.
Thinking of my friend’s prognosis gave me the opportunity to step outside of myself and try to understand why people have that deer-in-the-headlights look when they see me in my chair. Before yesterday, I would wonder why they didn’t see me. Not me in the chair. Just me. They looked over me. Through me. All around me. And when they did muster the courage to look at me directly, I would often meet dimly-lit eyes that screamed “poor, poor Justice.”
Dammit. I became one of them. I heard her words, but didn’t listen to her uncertainty. Her fear. Her confusion. I became so analytical that I threw my compassion out of the window.
I didn’t cry when the doctor said that I’d never walk again. I didn’t cry when the the doctor asked of my final wishes when I had the brain hemorrhage. But I felt empty when I learned my friend’s fate. Not being able to do anything to help someone you love in so much physical and emotional pain is more paralyzing then my inability to walk.
It took six years, but now, I get it.
The TV show focuses on what you would do if you witnessed something unfathomable, but how would you respond if something life-changing happened to you or someone you love? If you poured that comfortable little lifestyle into a Mason jar and shelved it, leaving no other option but to submit to a foreign way of existing. What would you do? Hopefully, not what I did.
Dear Friend: I know you are reading this because you support everything I do. Please forgive me. I am here for you. Whatever you need. Whenever you need it. We’ll get through whatever together. I love you.