Friday, February 15, 2013

What goes around, comes around

Still hangin' in San Antonio, with TMEA. I heard, for the first time, what "all state" means.

Oh. My. God......

The "All-state Mixed Choir" is performing my piece, "Hodie." Three-hundred-PLUS singers. "Outstanding" doesn't even scratch the surface... they are SO good. I can't wait to hear the performance, which will happen tomorrow afternoon. I didn't have the mental acuity to remember to snap a rehearsal picture with my iPhone, I was so completely blown over by their sound.

Other amazing things I learned today...

I still love high-school kids. They still love me. We don't know each other, but we get along great. Hanging even briefly with them was the best "treatment" I could have had, and was itself worth coming to Texas.

And oh yeah, they wanted my autograph! I am The Composer, after all, but I was touched and blown away by their kindness and their praise.

After the rehearsal, on and off throughout the day, I chatted with various adults at the convention. Music teachers are all alike. They all think the same way, they all have amazing ideas about helping their students, they adore their students, we traded a few "tricks of the trade."

And they don't like administrators who have no idea about what they (the teachers) do, or who think they're "solving" a problem but are actually creating one. Well, as a friend of mine who lives in the world of State Politics very wisely reminded me, people--everybody, no matter what their position--only solve their own problems. Or at best, only solve the problems they're aware of, and their proffered solutions match their understanding of the problem. Whether that's a correct understanding is, of course, its own problem.

I spent some time this afternoon with a Yale classmate of mine, who lives (somewhere) here in San Antonio. We didn't make it down to the river, but we meandered about in part of the Cute Touristy Zone. She told me that the city was improving the handicap-access ramps at curb corners, and she took me up one of these new ones... and they're definitely better. Much gentler ramp, and less-steep incline equals kindness to wheelchairs. The difference was immediately evident when the ramp at corner A was new, but the ramp at corner B was not.

Wandering about all by nyself in the wheelchair in this unfamiliar place has very much driven in the "people don't solve problems they're not aware of" truth of handicap "access" features. Can I make those quotation marks big enough, around "access," to make my point more intensely? My dad reminds me that I haven't been a wheelchair-ist for that long, he says that once I build my wheelchair muscles everything will improve, but even though I agree with him that using muscles builds them, I don't know if there's anything that mere strength can do about thresholds that are too high, doors that are too narrow/heavy/push back at you/all three at once, and ramps that are too steep, and potholes that cause the chair to stop short, or tip over.

That last of which hasn't happened yet, insh' Allah, but M.S. being tragicomic as it is, I figure it's only a matter of time. But being completely alone in a wheelchair, even when you can sort-of walk for sort-of-tiny distances, is definitely quite the ... oh, let's be kind. Challenge.

Have people I don't know offered to help, from time to time, opening doors or even pushing me up ramps? Yes they have, and bless them for their kindness. Would it be convenient to have someone available to help me more frequently/less sporadically? OH yeah. But if the kindest thing I can do to especially my wife is to not be an invalid, I'm going to do my absolute best.

Because what goes around, comes around. Even if it's "coming around" in a wheelchair.

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