Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More fun when it's optional

I have long held to the belief that just about anything in life is much more enjoyable when it is optional.

I first noticed this in college, where the norm for me was slogging slowly and painfully through assigned readings in textbooks or literature, even when the subject was one I liked. I'm normally an avid reader, but somehow the idea that a particular text was mandatory -- was homework -- made it a drudgery. But then to my surprise, several months later when the class was behind me, I could pick up the exact same textbook or story and find it fascinating.

With my recent surgery, I'm experiencing the same thing. People would see me hauling my useless leg around on the scooter and say, "Wow, that looks like fun!" (One precious little girl even greeted the scooter with an awe-filled, "Cooooool!!!!!")

Um, no. While riding a scooter in general is fun, somehow the fun evaporates when it is your only mode of transportation -- when you can't move even a few feet without it. I came to be competent using it, and eventually did find a measure of enjoyment in rolling down long hallways and inside courtrooms, but it never rose to the level of "fun." And now that I'm on crutches and the scooter has been sent back to the medical supply store, I can't really say that I miss it.

Likewise my handicap parking privileges. Yep, I have a pair of those blue handicap parking tags, one for each family car, because of my infirmity.

I'm not proud of this, but over the course of my life there were many times when I wished I had the privilege of parking in those nice, close-in handicap reserved parking spaces. Admit it, you have, too. When the mall is packed with cars filling all the normal spaces out to the street; when last-minute grocery shoppers have taken all the good spots, preventing you from your last-minute grocery shopping; when you just don't want to walk much farther -- those empty spaces marked with the blue-and-white signs look awfully enticing.

Well, I have that privilege now. And like the textbooks and the scooter, it would be a lot more fun if it were optional. As it is, any extra distance I have to travel can be a literal pain, so the tags are a necessity (as they should be).

Now, my handicap access is temporary, which is extraordinarily good news -- it means my disability is also temporary. Having been given a small taste of this "privilege," I cannot begin to imagine having any disability which is permanent. I'll happily stop using the tags when I am able.

But a year or so down the road, I might just have to ride a scooter around in a handicapped space. While reading an old textbook.

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