Friday, September 12, 2008

not about cycling II

last evening I got to get dressed up and go to La Caille.
I, like most people, tend to go there for significant occasions only. and last night's occasion was momentous in that it was a fundraiser/celebration of an amazing organization, but also in that it changed something inside me.
the Work Activity Center is an organization that provides training, care, and employment opportunities for adults with disabilities. the company my business partner connie and I own, alchemy IV, has worked with the WAC (as we affectionately call it) since our inception 7 years ago. we take and have delivered the components of our sets to them, and they put our sets together for us.
employees have come and gone, supervisors have changed again and again, but the "clients" are a much more stable group. connie and I have gotten to know many of them quite well. and each time we visit the WAC, we leave there a little more grounded. life becomes much simpler after we spend time around this group of people.
last night we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the WAC's inaugural year. fifty years of providing care, training, work, and other recreational experiences for adults who did not used to have such opportunities.
our company is small, and the checks we write to the WAC each month can't possibly even put a dent into their operating expenses, once they have paid the clients for their work on our sets. but those clients greet connie and I each time we visit, with smiles and stories and handshakes and hugs, and make us feel like we are a gift to them.
when it is the opposite which is true.
last night debbie (deaf, with some form of cerebral palsy that causes her gait to be awkward and her arms to move stiffly) and mike (deaf, in a wheelchair) danced for us, and their grins were barely contained on their faces. and I barely kept the tears contained within my eyes.
they weren't tears of sadness or of loss or pity, but of joy.
I will never know what it's like to live inside such a body, or to process the world with such a brain. but I do know about joy, about accomplishment, about feeling capable and competent. and these are things each person at the WAC is able to experience.
and these are the things that bring each of us contentment and a sense of harmony with the universe.
something within me changed last night. it was a deepening of my sense of connection to every other human. it didn't happen because being around this group of people was new for me, as it's not. I think it happened because last night's collection of people was small, and populated by people who truly cared. I felt compassion, empathy, commitment, strength, and love throughout the room, all circulating and empowering each one of us.
La Caille is a beautiful setting for any event, but the most beautiful image impressed upon my mind last night remains the vision of debbie's smiling face as she watched, felt, and somehow heard our applause.

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