I saw the woman in her black coat and heeled-boots as she stepped in front of me to board the train. Her hair was a pale chestnut, like sand. Her eyes were light, searching and resting, all at once.
The long white stick in her sleek, leather-gloved hands tapped the tiled, train-station floor, and echoed inside, clashing against my ribs. I followed her into the train car as she allowed all senses but sight to guide her.
And I, seeing, felt paralyzed.
Sometime’s the empathy inside rips at every steel-sewn seam of ignorant sanity, as if cotton candy; I feel a kind of drowning sensation when confronted with pain; and yet, I am always unsure of what “proper reactions” mean in reality (besides autonomy and apathy).
Of course, I know that my want to hug her was inappropriate. But it wasn’t out of pity; more like awe and searing-humility. And probably a form of ableism’s privilege.
Maybe it’s the recognition–and wonder–of the woman’s courage. Because for some people, living can be scary at its bare foundations. This may be true for those with physical or emotional hurdles that the rest of us don’t understand; the elderly, the depressed, the disabled, those overcome by tragedy, or health issues.
Besides the burden of depression, I do not speak as one who knows these other “hurdles” intimately, but I speak as one who–at the deepest parts of me– longs to connect humanity back to itself; and the burden of fear is something we all may understand in varying degrees.
As I process through these observations, offer a little grace. This not a want to assume or put a burden on those who are “disabled”; it is merely an attempt of bridging my experience–and our mutual human experience–with theirs.
There is no “other”. (Though this statement may stand as an idealistic cliche–not totally founded on human constructs and realities–I hold to it.)
And as I sat in the metro car, watching her tap that royal scepter in all of her regality–chestnut hair, light eyes, and leather gloves–I put my head down, into my hands.
I was hot, all over my body, and overwhelmed. I cried for a second, quietly. Un-figuratively. I have all my senses, all my body parts, all my health (as far as I am aware). And yet my soul feels dismembered.
Apathy, in the sense of indifference of feeling has always been a coping mechanism that God spared when he put me together.
So instead I put my head down, crumbling in privilege and unaware of the proper way to use it; to better environments; to humble myself; to be more than ignorant.
I am crumbling in privilege, so I put my head down. But just for a moment.
I pray for courage like hers, and walk to work.