Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. (388, The Message Bible)About a month ago, I heard someone who was in a position of power make the statement in front of a group of people that everyone can get their needs met if they are creative enough. I have been thinking about that statement ever since and I have got to say that it is a bunch of privileged, ableist bullshit.
I learned way back in elementary school that needs are the things that keep you alive - you need them to survive. The fact of the matter is that there will come a day for every single person when they will not be able to use creative means to stop their own death. We all know that death is as certain as taxes...or do we? Perhaps for some it is easy to deny that death will ever really happen to them but I seem to have escaped that ability. I think about death a lot and I do not believe that there is anything wrong with that. As I have written before, I believe my morbidity is one of my greatest strengths.
I think it must be fairly easy to not think about death if one is able in both body and mind, white, male, and of a higher class but what if one is not? Was Sandra Bland not creative enough to get her out of the binds of being a woman of color? What about Jaquarrius Holland, Chyna Gibson, Ciara McElveen, Mesha Caldwell, Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, Keke Collier and Jojo Striker - the seven transgender women of color who have been killed so far this year in the United States for the crime of disregarding racial gender norms? Was Anthony Hill's death due to a lack of creativity or to the stigma of mental illness and lack of proper police training? What about all the poor people I know that cannot afford their medications? Would a more positive attitude erase their need for medication or would it enable them to bring in more money on their own? I do not think so.
I keep thinking of the picture of the little Syrian toddler, face caked with tears, blood and dirt, made famous a few months ago and how his needs are most definitely not being met. He may be physically alive but he is bereft of home, family and safety. I was taught in DBT that when one is in a situation where their needs are not going to be met, a person has the option to radically accept it and in so doing, may at least experience peace. I am struggling to make sense of the fact that that famous little boy probably does not have the maturity and brain power to radically accept his situation. He is in a miserable situation and I see little way out. I can try to console myself that one of the workers
perhaps has adopted him and that he now has a good home but there is no way to know this for sure.
Reality insists that I have no way of knowing what has happened to him and that he very well may be dead.
I am very much alive, with my physical needs currently being met, but I have many unmet inner needs. I have a deep longing for a world right with God, a world that honors the sacred in everyone, a world in peace and harmony with all living beings. I am continually disappointed as I am assaulted with the knowledge that this will never happen while I am alive. In a way, I wish I could delude myself to believing that if I am creative enough, I can meet all my needs and desires but I am smart enough and disabled enough to know that I cannot. I have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and a host of different mental illnesses - no matter how healthily I live, the possibility of developing an illness that I cannot manage well one day is always a concern of mine. Ironically, it is precisely when I accept this reality that I experience the most inner peace.
Currently, I carry the burden of loving the life I have built for myself and the job I have but also wanting to attend seminary and become a theological writer. I have a feeling the speaker I heard a month ago would say that there is a creative solution in which I can have it all, but I know the truth - I am not Wonder Woman and if I were to become seminarian and career writer then it would be the death, at least for a while, of the mental health career that I love. I absolutely do not know what to do. Fortunately, this decision is not life or death but I do believe that easing the longing for perfection in this imperfect world may be a need that will always be partly left unmet. Perhaps that is one of the great joys of life - accepting that there will always be some kind of dissatisfaction in this life, for without dissatisfaction, I would never strive to be creative and to be creative is to be one universe, with the one who co-created the universe to be. Therein lies the paradox that I tried to explain to the man - when I accept my permanent state of dissatisfaction then I enjoy the highest sense of satisfaction. I imagine that I will wrestle with dissatisfaction my whole life until the day it is that I cease to be and who knows what will happen then! Until that day, there is no way to creatively get out of being a disabled woman and all the vulnerabilities that come with that fact. Perhaps one day I will develop Alzheimer's and so forget who I am - all the more reason to appreciate who I am now and call out bullshit as I can.