When I asked Emma if I could post this video of her doing her latest “catch”, she said, “Yes! Post on blog!”
I’ve written about Emma perfecting her “catch” ‘here‘ and ‘here‘ and I’ve mentioned too, the hours of practice it took, for her to get to this point. It’s important you understand how hard she’s worked. She didn’t suddenly climb up a ladder, grab onto the trapeze, swing a few times and then catch someone else’s arms one day. She has been practicing this for years. Just as she didn’t suddenly begin typing sentences or one day open up a book and start reading it, Emma has worked hard, incredibly hard and for anyone to suggest otherwise is doing her and others who are accomplishing wonderful things a tremendous disservice.
Far too often we hear stories of children and people who, seemingly miraculously, began reading grade level material or began typing their thoughts or began playing an instrument and to us, the reader, the person who has just now discovered this story, this video, this whatever it is, it seems it all happened “suddenly”, “miraculously”, “overnight”, yet this is rarely the case. Years and years of practice, of hard, hard work have taken place before that moment when we become aware of the person. How many times have we heard about someone being an “overnight sensation” with lots of exclamation marks following those two words. How often do we hear of someone who has accomplished incredible things, we marvel at them, but we also dismiss their tremendous accomplishments with our belief that it all happened “miraculously”.
The years leading up to those success stories are not so interesting to most of us. We don’t really want to know about the daily grind, day after day of showing up to perfect or master a skill. When we apply these same beliefs to people with disabilities we are doing them a tremendous disservice. Not only are we ignoring the difficult work, the hours and hours they put, in practicing and honing their skills, we are dismissing all that hard work with words like “magical” and “miraculous” and we are ignoring just how hard that work is. There is nothing miraculous about someone accomplishing something after putting in hundreds and thousands of hours of practice and hard work for years. Their accomplishment is not an indication of our failure. We do not need to dismiss someone else’s achievements to make ourselves feel better.
All those people who have gone on to prove themselves as more capable than most people gave them credit for are NOT examples of miracles. They got to where they are through HARD WORK. To all of you, Emma Z-L, Carly Fleischmann, Tito Mukhopadhyay, Jennifer Seybert, Jamie Burke, DJ Savarese, Barb Rentenbach, Amy Sequenzia, Emma Studer, Paige Goddard, Amanda Baggs, Henry Frost, Larry Bissonnette, Tracy Thresher, Sue Rubin, Alberto Frugone, Richard Attfield, Nick Pentzell, Rob Cutler (there are too many people to list) to all of you who have worked so hard, who continue to work every single day to communicate and do all that you do, your hard work is acknowledged and appreciated. I need you to know how much I appreciate the days, months, years, and for some of you, decades that each of you has spent showing up, day after day to do what does not come easily.
You are leading the way for my daughter. You are showing me how it’s done; I cannot thank you enough.
Emma practices climbing the rope wall