I was just sitting down to the table for lunch on a Sunday afternoon and a thought occurred to me: Who were my heroes? Who were those larger than life figures that inspired me growing up? Were they disabled like me? Well, the answer there is No.
I’ll bet that not many of you out there had thought of other disabled folks as heroes either. No, when I was a kid, my first heroes were Mohammed Ali, and Evil Kenevil. They were certainly not disabled. You see, having a disability does not confine your imagination. Your disability, whatever it may be, does not affect your ability to dream.
The cool thing about dreams is that they give you something to shoot for. I admired Muhammad Ali. I did not think of his color as a child. In the same manner, I did not think in terms of my Cerebral Palsy either. Ali was just a cool boxer with a personality you could not ignore. I had many heroes: Elvis, and bands like The Beatles, KISS, Queen, and Van Halen. I read Marvel Comics. I identified with Peter Parker, whom most of us know as Spider-Man. Did I even once think: “Gee, I’ll never be a Superhero…” No! I imagined I was Spider-Man, or Luke Skywalker...or DarthVader. I never once thought… I can’t think like that because I’m not “ normal” No, in fact I identified with most of those characters just BECAUSE they were not “normal” either! Superman had a weakness...kryptonite, the stone from his own planet that would instantly sap his super strength. Spider-Man was really just Peter Parker: a school kid full of insecurities and doubts who came into his powers by accident. Peter never asked to be Spider-Man. Just like you or I never asked for our disabilities.
So you see where I’m going? I’ll bet that at some point in your life you had some Heroes too. Those heroes opened you up to the possibility of dreams… Maybe, it made you think… Ok, What CAN I DO… instead of what CAN’T I do?
That’s what happened to me anyway. I saw ROCKY… about a bajillion times, I saw CONAN… ( I read all the books too!) and I thought: WOW! Arnold Schwarzenegger is A REAL guy! He’s not some comic book fantasy! That’s a real person! (How is that possible ?) Look, I know… there were other things at work here.. but when I was 11… I was incapable of thinking on those terms. I just thought… I wanna do THAT! I wanna WIN like Rocky and be a Conqueror like CONAN… Not once, did I stop and think… That’s impossible. Something just clicked and I wanted to make my dreams reality. I’m here to tell you. It’s possible…. I did it. I did it because dreams are powerful things. It took work, it took effort, it took time. But mostly it took a belief in myself and my dreams. So think about who your heroes are and what your dreams are…. Then, think about what YOU CAN DO to reach your dreams! Excelsior! ( Thank you Stan Lee)
Keep Movin Y’all
Image credit: Flicker.com & Arnie Slater