My sophomore year in high school the choir group I was in embarked on the annual “choir trip.” We were going to Salt Lake City, Utah. I grew up in Boise, Idaho and at the time Salt Lake was the big city and quite the adventure. Everyone in the choir was excited for the trip. I had not been home from the hospital for very long and therefore did not yet have my power chair or accessible van. So, in order for me to go I would need a little help.
I wouldn’t be able take the bus with the rest of the choir so first, I needed a ride. I couldn’t do my own care so I needed someone to go along and help me get up and ready for the day. Also, because that would be in my manual wheelchair I needed someone willing to push me from place to place.
My mom was dedicated to keeping me involved and therefore offered to take care of the ride and my care. There was a caveat however. She knew the kind of hotel our choir budget would put us in and said that if she was going to go she and I would be staying somewhere nicer.
With my first two requirements taken care of, I spoke to my friends in the group and they agreed not only to push me from place to place but to also take me to and from the hotel my mom and I would stay in to the hotel the choir would be in. With all my needs taken care of, I was good to go.
The trip finally arrived, and my mom and I followed the bus down to Salt Lake City. We checked into the Marriott as the choir checked into their motel. As soon as everyone was settled, my friends walked down a few blocks to take me to where they were staying. True to most trips of this kind we hung out eating pizza, talking and laughing. It became time for me to return to my hotel and my friend Krishel offered to take me back.
On our way we came to a crosswalk. We waited for the lights turn green and when it did Krishel began to push me across the street. About halfway across a man in a power wheelchair passed us going the opposite direction. Once he was out of earshot, she leaned down and whispered in my ear, “Can you imagine what that would be like to be in a wheelchair?” I chuckled and told her that I felt like I probably could. We both had a pretty good laugh about it as she pushed me the rest of the way to my hotel.
Later, laying in my bed in the Marriott I took a minute to consider what had just happened. There we were crossing the street, Krishel’s hands were on my chair pushing me across and still she forgot that I was in a wheelchair.
She saw me. She saw Jason. She didn’t see the wheelchair, or quadriplegic. She simply saw her friend.
My life has been richly blessed by people like Krishel and I have been better for it. They say “what you see is what you get” and I have found that to be true. My days have been filled with people who saw me and not my chair and because of those people and their view that’s exactly what they’ve gotten; me and not my chair. I have little doubt that I have reached higher goals, achieved more, become more and overcome obstacles I otherwise would not have because of what others have seen in me.
Think about that the next time you interact with someone the little different than yourself, a little different than the norm. Much of what what you get from them will come from what you see in them. A little vision pointed in the right direction will allow you to see the incredible in others, while helping them accomplish it themselves.