TED Talks Tuesday is a meme where I showcase a TED talk that has inspired me, made me think or simply made me laugh.
Today's talk comes from Aimee Mullins, a paraolympic athlete and model.
Her talk is on the opportunity of adversity, and I love the way she reframes it.
Implicit in this phrase of "overcoming adversity" is the idea that success, or happiness, is about emerging on the other side of a challenging experience unscathed or unmarked by the experience, as if my successes in life have come about from an ability to sidestep or circumnavigate the presumed pitfalls of a life with prosthetics, or what other people perceive as my disability. But, in fact, we are changed. We are marked, of course, by a challenge, whether physically, emotionally or both. And I'm going to suggest that this is a good thing. Adversity isn't an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It's part of our life.
If you don't have time to watch the whole talk (and I hope you do, because it is an excellent talk), I've put some quotes from it underneath.
"Wow. Aimee, you are such a strong and powerful little girl, I think you're going to break one of those bands. When you do break it, I'm going to give you a hundred bucks."
Now, of course, this was a simple ploy on Dr. P's part to get me to do the exercises I didn't want to do before the prospect of being the richest five-year-old in the second floor ward, but what he effectively did for me was reshape an awful daily occurrence into a new and promising experience for me. And I have to wonder today to what extent his vision and his declaration of me as a strong and powerful little girl shaped my own view of myself as an inherently strong, powerful and athletic person well into the future.
See, all you really need is one person to show you the epiphany of your own power, and you're off. If you can hand somebody the key to their own power -- the human spirit is so receptive -- if you can do that and open a door for someone at a crucial moment, you are educating them in the best sense.
So, I think that the only true disability is a crushed spirit, a spirit that's been crushed doesn't have hope, it doesn't see beauty, it no longer has our natural, childlike curiosity and our innate ability to imagine. If instead, we can bolster a human spirit to keep hope, to see beauty in themselves and others, to be curious and imaginative, then we are truly using our power well. When a spirit has those qualities, we are able to create new realities and new ways of being.