Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Real Liberation


I had a remarkable conversation with a woman about physical limitations. Nancy was a sufferer of M.S. She could no longer walk and spent her waking hours in a wheelchair.

"I'm not 'confined' to the wheelchair," she insisted one day. "It doesn't confine me. It sets me free."

I had never thought of it that way. And I have never since referred to someone in a wheelchair since as being "confined."

She asked me, "Do you want to know my reason for living?" It seemed like an abrupt change of subject, but I went with it.

"What is it?"

"To liberate people. To set them free."

She must have studied my face and figured I needed more help. "It's like me...before I got my wheelchair, I had trouble getting around," she explained. "Now I can go places. But other people may be trapped in different ways. So however I can free people, I want to do it."

"People speak of being 'shut in,'" she continued. "People who have difficulty leaving a room or a house or a bed are not 'shut in.' They're 'shut out' -- shut out of activities and shut out of people's lives. So I try to help people find some freedom, however I can."

We all live with limitations, don't we? If not physical, we may be limited in our thinking or limited by our beliefs. 

When I feel confined by my thinking, I sometimes wonder how my friend would free herself. I think she would replace her life-sapping thoughts with life-giving thinking. As Darwin P. Kingsley, past president of New York Life Insurance Company, says,
"You have powers you never dreamed of.
You can do things you never thought you could do.
There are no limitations in what you can do except
the limitations of your own mind."
I appreciate Nancy. She showed me what real liberation is all about.

-- Steve Goodier

Image: flickr.com/Wheelchair Basketball Canada

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