This summer I began two journeys. The first one, as many of you know, was to begin my thesis proposal. In many ways, writing my proposal is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Getting my ideas on paper has never been that difficult for me, but then again, I’ve never had an idea that has been with me for over twenty years. Getting that out on paper…well, that’s another story.
And then there’s another journey: I decided to watch Star Trek. For the first time. And it’s been a trip.
As I’ve written before, my lovely Grandma Joyce died about two months ago now, five days after my thirty-first birthday. A couple of weeks ago, I also experienced a confusing falling-out with a new friend. Both of these situations shook my confidence to its very core. I learned from the experience, but it was hard.
They were formative experiences, but at times I couldn’t understand why they had to happen when I was already so vulnerable.
My thesis proposal has brought out so many vulnerabilities in me already. I’ve had to ask myself the hard question about what has made my life different from so many other’s experience. Having disability be the number one difference seems like a bit of a cop out at this point; and yet, it’s also the truth. But another thing was different: I read. I read anything I could get my hands on. And through reading, I was introduced to new worlds and states of being other than my own.
This was my big “aha” moment.
Which is, essentially, what Star Trek is all about. Gene Roddenberry’s vision was to introduce characters that were different—literally alien, in some cases—but were still accepted. That element of the unknown that so many people today are fearful of: that was embraced, flaunted, and even celebrated.
That’s the kind of world I want to live in. That’s the kind of world I’ve been part of every night for the last two months.
Stories have an amazing capacity to build us up when we’re down. That has been my experience this summer, and it’s been a learning experience. I’m sure many people thought Gene Roddenberry was crazy, because he just wanted everyone to get along despite petty differences. But that view of the world, although it sometimes seems far away, is exactly what we need to get by.
And sometimes having a disability is just like being lost in space, or showing up unbidden on a planet that has never seen the likes of you before. And that’s kind of cool.