Damn. Just damn.
Not 5 minutes ago, I had a former sixth grader come to me and say, “Mr. Johnston, would you like to do an experiment with me?”
Now, this girl is NOT one I’d distrust by any means. Always positive and always hard working, she had that ability to make many people smile. She’s also losing her eye sight. I’m not sure when it was diagnosed, but it was an issue in sixth grade and has continue to get worse.
Yup, that part of her life, she’s been dealt a crappy hand, but continues to smile and do the best that she can, in spite of this disability that going on.
So, of course, I say yes, so she tells me to turn away from my white board and she write something up there. Then, she hands me these glasses that are just bizarre-looking. One eye piece looks like a small funnel with a magnifying glass and the other eye piece looks like the bottom of a Coke bottle that’s been cover in a cloudy film of some sort.
She instructs me to go the back of the room and put the glasses on.
So, being the good student I am, I follow the directions and suddenly life is blurry and out of focus and seeing around me is very uncomfortable. “Now, tell me what I wrote,” she says.
I step forward, and forward, and forward until I’m also to the front of my room. I can finally see her writing, “My name is Darin.” My next question, of course, as what am I looking?
Her answer floors me: This is what my eye sight is like.
These glasses were set up by a specialist to give us a little picture of what she goes through on a daily basis. It was shocking to me how hard she’s working to read, write, and simply “do school”, along with chores and the rest of life outside of our building. Then, the finally kicker, that idea of how we take our eye sight, heck, our overall health for granted.
I always knew she worked hard to the things that she did, but wow, it just helped me to see just how hard is truly was for her. And of course, there’s a complaint every once and while, but not very often. What I would see from her: she’d get to work, use the tools around her to make things work for her. In a time where it would be easy to act entitled and almost quit, she’s making the conscious choice to make the best of her situation.
This morning our precept, by William James,
The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.
This precept fits so well with this student because she’s take a disability and, because of her mindset, is making it work. If we could all be so bold to make the choice, every single day.