The tangible world

This entry originally appeared on my disability blog, I hate stairs.

Today, Matt and I took a walk outside, as we often do, to thaw out from being air conditioned for much too long and to talk in private about things that were on our minds. As we rolled along down the dead-end street, Matt said that he wanted to go fishing.

“It’s like the only sport I can do half of,” he joked.

“More than half, actually, because you spend most of your time sitting and waiting, which we’re really good at,” I replied.

We often make fun of our disability. We have an open policy with each other when it comes to disability matters. Even though we were joking, I understood Matt’s desire.

“There’s a certain beauty about just sitting there and holding the rod,” he continued.

Right, indeed. I think the beauty of it comes from just holding the rod, feeling it in your hand. It’s the physical connection. Increasingly, I lose my ability to physically connect with the world around me. Many of my connections are psychological. My world is in the mind. My computer has become an extension of myself.

“But you can’t live only in the mind,” Matt said as our conversation continued.

“You can. It just sucks,” I laughingly retorted.

He was right, though. Being able to reach out and grab something is an empowering feeling. There is a certain joy in the tangibility of things. Physical connections are part of our human nature. When fishing, it’s the grip of the rod and the pull of the fish. When shooting hoops, it’s the feeling of the ball’s momentum as you control it. When playing piano, it’s the rhythm underneath your fingers. When dating, it’s a touch on the arm or a spontaneous hug.

These are the world of the tangible. When we were babies, we explored this brave new world. Many people, I think, grow up to take this tangibility for granted. While I would never trade my mind for physical ability, I realize that there is a part of the world in which my participation is waning. Even with its capacity for thought, ideas, and emotion, the world of the mind can still be a cold, dark, and lonely place.