Due to a disability, I walk with a cane. Unexpectedly, it has become an instrument of enlightenment for me, an aid to understanding and accepting myself and others. When I first started using a cane, I was very self-conscious. I thought it was a symbol of weakness. When kind people offered to help me by opening a door or offering to carry my packages, I said, “No thank you. I’m fine.” I didn’t want their pity. But the truth is, I do need help sometimes. I slowly began to accept the reality that I do have a disability and realized that my disability does not diminish me as a person. I started to accept and appreciate the help others offered. I realized that it wasn’t pity that motivated people to help me. My cane simply tapped into the kindness and generosity which I believe dwell in every human soul. Not only do I benefit, so does the giver, in the joy or satisfaction that comes from the simple, yet profound act of helping another. I know this when I see the smile and the softness in the eyes of those who help me.
We all experience these fleeting moments of connection. For most, they may pass unnoticed. For me, they happen repeatedly and command my awe and gratitude. My disability may be a burden, but it is also a gift in ways I never anticipated. My lingering question is: Why can’t we all treat each other with such goodwill, even if we don’t all walk with a cane?