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Handicapped by abilities


This battle between fussiness and appreciation applies to food and possessions, obviously, but it also applies to other things we take for granted.

File image.Picture: Xinhua/Ammar Safarjalani

Now this may make me sound very old, but back in the last century when I was young, adults were the ones who had their fingers on the pulse of what was going on in the world. 
Adults, used to sit and pore over their newspapers, they would also read magazines and almost every home had a bookcase with a shelf reserved for the encyclopedias, all 32 volumes. 
Now we held our adults in the highest esteem and therefore as far as we knew our folks had memorised those volumes. 
It was for this reason that the children trusted what adults said. 
So it should come as no surprise that when an adult told you that somewhere in Africa there are starving children caused by your refusing to eat your food, you believed them. 
And if you retched at the thought of putting boiled cabbage in your mouth you’d hear: “In Ethiopia there are children who would eat raw cabbage sand and all, and you want to turn up your nose for food!”
Then, in acknowledgement of the starving children’s plight we’d choke down the big chunks of tasteless, chewy leaves, and we prayed that the pudding would come soon. 
By the way, over the years my tastes have changed and now I love the entire cruciferous family, especially since I learned of the health benefits they have packed inside them.
I have also learned that when you are immature and you have an abundance of something you can afford to be picky – but many mature people have learned to appreciate what they have. 
One person for example may be frustrated because his mobile phone has a limited memory, while the next is just happy to be able to be in contact with friends and family – perception is everything.
This battle between fussiness and appreciation applies to food and possessions, obviously, but it also applies to other things we take for granted.
I have a friend, and let’s just say that he was born with a condition that falls outside that ideal that people generally like to call “normal”. However, this young man not only embraced his “disability” but he went further, he also brought his potential and determination to the party. 
He worked hard at his studies and today has a few degrees hanging on his wall. He has his Code 14 licence and actually drives those massive pantechnicons; he has a black belt in Karate and on top of all this he is as humble and modest a guy as you would ever want to meet.
It makes me wonder if having no “disability” isn’t a disability of its own. You see, so often we have able-bodied and sound-minded people who should have the world at their feet, but they seem to have no fire in their spirits; all they do is gripe about how unfair life is. 
While others who are supposed to be at a disadvantage have clenched their teeth and taken on obstacle after obstacle and have managed to make something of themselves.
Søren Kierkegaard tells the story of a town where only ducks live.
Every Sunday the ducks waddle down the main street to their church. They waddle into the building and squat in their pews. The duck choir sings and then the duck minister comes and reads from the duck bible.
He encourages them, “Ducks, God has given you wings! With these wings you can fly! With these wings you can rise up and soar like eagles!  No walls can confine you, no fences can hold you. You have wings and you can fly like birds!”
All the ducks shout “Amen.” And then they waddle home.
The moral of the story: We weren’t born to live an ordinary, meaningless, average existence. We have been given gifts, abilities, untapped potential, intelligence, energy, passion and dreams so that we can live an extraordinary life.
Don’t waddle, fly!