I don’t feel like going.  I have homebody tendencies that have only increased since becoming disabled.  I wasn’t crazy about social situations before, but at least I fit in.  Now I’m in a wheelchair, don’t like eating around groups because I’ll shake and be lucky to hit my mouth, and have to drink through a straw.  I always had beer at the bowling alley.  And I ask you, what’s bowling without beer?

But, I go for several reasons.  I’ve met many nice people in the program (Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program) that I want to see.  And my mother has drilled this concept of “socialization” into my head.  I should connect with my peers.  In other words, it’s important to have disabled, as well as able-bodied, friends.

It’s always interesting, being part of this group.  I’ve done things I never imagined doing again.  I’ve played pool, ridden horseback, and rowed the St. John’s River. None of them well, but still.   I can’t fathom how I will bowl when I picture my old long-legged approach.  But to think technique is to miss the point.

The last two lanes closest to the ramp that lead to the polished wood floors belong to our motley crew.  Nearly all of us are in wheelchairs.  Some of us, like me, take erratic swings in the lane with the “gutter guards,” those rails that keep the ball traveling toward the pins.  Some of us chuck the ball down the lane with a loud crash.  Some of us, lacking grip, use metal ball ramps to release the ball.  All of us begin at the foul line.

It would be far easier to stay in than worry about if there will be steps, or if I can eat something there, or how silly my beer will look with a straw sticking out of it.  But, if I only surrounded myself with able-bodied people, I’d never measure up.  I’d always see things in terms of what I couldn’t do, instead of what I could.  I’d stay home and play hostess to my own one woman pity party.

As I am leaving someone uses a phone to look up my new website and reads about what happened to me.  He is an amputee.  “How sad,” he says.  “I’m sorry.”  I am momentarily taken aback.  No one disabled has ever said this to me.  And then I realize.  Maybe I make him feel grateful.

Remember, there is always someone worse off than you.  Today, do something that keeps you grateful.

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