Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Swim Deeper

“Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.” - Christopher Reeve

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I never liked waiting in a sterile examination room behind a closed door, wondering if they’ve forgotten somehow. Each minute makes my stomach tighten like a turning screw applying pressure, becoming near claustrophobic. The paper lining crackles under me and I take a deep breathe in an effort to sit still, worried the noise would give away my impatience.

Nearby Paul makes faces and pretends he’s going to examine me with various instruments. His presence is comforting, none the less he earns a glare for his efforts. No matter how large the word DEAF is written on the front of my file, they still at times fail to turn so I can read their lips, spurting a barrage of questions to the surrounding walls (nurses and doctors alike). So Paul is a necessary extra pair of ears.

My patience is soon rewarded by the door opening, which admits a new (to me) doctor. She appears nice enough, even if she at first talks slow like the animated pauses in a Roadrunner cartoon. Seconds later her questions and lips begin moving rapid fast – at a machine gun rat-a-tat pace. I glance toward Paul and he shrugs with a half grin and repeats what the doctor just said. Within minutes I become accustomed to her speech patterns and I’m able to communicate without help.

“You’re good!” The woman replies, after I repeat back the latest information to make sure I had my facts straight. The comment catches me off-guard. Reading lips has become so natural to me; I don’t grasp at first how it must seem to a hearing person. She’s actually excited and a little awed at the prospect of talking to a deaf person with no sign language. After the initial consult, I’m sent to make an appointment for a minor procedure, leaving the room still slightly baffled by the woman’s response.

Not even three minutes later, talking to the receptionist – she turns to me and exclaims, “You’re good!” After I finished a sentence for Paul in the midst of trying to repeat something he wasn’t sure I understood. By now I’m thoroughly amused; I seem to have become the novelty of the day. Or perhaps caught in an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ (the doctor’s office is located in Rod Serling’s home town after all). By nightfall amusement would turn to bravado. I had seen myself through the good doctor’s eyes.

Years ago I dared to jump off the pier of comfort I had originally submerged myself with my deafness. Something I had feared would alter my life had become an extension of me instead.

The thing about piers – is once you’ve jumped off they’re still in sight, still close by to grab hold and pull yourself up to safety. Unless you swim like the devil away with your arms and heart growing stronger with resilient determination, you might want to stay on board and never jump again. Crazy as it seems jumping isn’t enough in any scenario - you can either drown, swim, or grow into a vine entwined into the floorboards of a desecrated rickety pier (boredom).

I wasn’t happy treading water 6 years ago (with my deafness)…So why am I still in sight of the pier with my writing? My advice – swim deeper in whatever life offers, safety is lost in the stagnant recesses of not fully living.

**If it seems I’m talking about my deafness a lot on my blog of late - I am. Simply because there are some hard lessons here, reminders I need to stay the course with my writing.


Picture from here

44 comments:

  1. Your deafness is a vital part of you, no matter what. I am sure that your readers have accepted this fact and still love you, just the way you are...

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  2. Wonderful writing here, and that seems to be important. writing is a way of communicating that transcends the barriers of deafness. In the writing we are all the same.

    It intrigues me then that the story of this exchange at the doctor's has that added dimension - your deafness, as something that shatters other people's expectations and makes you wary, perhaps.

    I agree with you about the importance of taking risks.

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  3. Talking about jumping off piers, I could simply drown in your writing. You have a gift many would envy. Including myself.

    And finally, I agree with Rose, in that your deafness is a vital part of who you are. And we, all your followers, love you just the way you are :)

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  4. Okay... I am going to say it... I don't get what Beth or Rose seems to have gotten from this. I guess that what makes everyone unique.

    The use of the piers and the ocean as metaphor has a certain effect on me... one that dares to dream in spite of the circumstance. To deal with uncomfortable things and even slights, maintaining dignity and bearing.

    I would be insult that someone thought I was 'doing well' even with my condition. What does that mean? What do they think I should be doing?? Screw that, I am here and I was prolly more capable than you at one time, doncha know, and if the mood strikes, I can summon up a whole bag o' suprise for you.

    I bet you and Paul had a small laugh at the doctor... eh, what can you say? Every now and then that stuff exasperates you but hey, I learned as a little boy that some stuff comes with the territory, so you better have a map and know the rest stops!!

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  5. You're good :) This is great advice. I tend to stay well within sight of the pier. It takes me a loooooong time to build the confidence to move to the next step no matter what the activity. I'm getting better though! :)

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  6. Absolutely nothing wrong writing about something you're familiar with... Instead of deafness controlling you Indigo, YOU control the deafness and have taken ownership. You have defined IT instead of having it define you! You've let your test become your testimony. You've survived (the jump into the pier). Now by swimming into the deep waters, you're ready to live again. Go for it!

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  7. 'You're good'...at writing about your challenge; I like how the doctor saw your gifts as well. Your post is a reminder that we all like to feel secure on our piers. That's not where the growth is.

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  8. I love how you relate this to writing! And it's soooo true. When you let go of your fear and stretch your limits, you really do grow. It is scary, but very exhilarating. You absolutely should use your own experiences to guide you. You are an amazingly unique individual and that comes out in your writing voice.

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  9. I love how you've linked deafness with writing. They're both obviously an intrinsic part of you.

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  10. To me, your talking about your deafness seems natural. We each seem to talk and write about our lives.

    I like your image of jumping off piers.

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  11. Having taken a class in ASL (which I know you still have strong opinions about, or at least opinions about the Deaf Community) I have to say that I'm glad you took the "You're good!" as well as you did. I think what sets you apart from other Deaf people I know is your grace, your acceptance of others, and your healthy, happy attitude. I know a lot of Deaf people who would have told off the doctor or nurse or felt insulted because they were "talked down to."

    I think you've really embraced your Deafness and that, as others pointed out, it's a vital part of you, but I can see in this post that you also embrace going far out beyond where it's safe and kicking even more ass with your wonderful attitude. :)

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  12. What a powerful quote from Christopher Reeve, and a beautiful post from you.

    I'm glad you're good, and that there are lessons (for us all) in your writing, deafness or not.

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  13. Remembering someone has a sensory disability is really difficult. After all People only see the world through their own eyes. They cannot 'hear' your deafness.
    You seem far more patient than I would be in the circumstances.

    At least you are in the water, swimming the ocean will come eventually.

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  14. Hi Indigo, I don't think I've visited before, nice to meet you :)

    Tthe other commenters have made great points, which I definitely agree with. Must say, I love the way you write; your overall writing style is clear and evocative and you painted a lovely picture in my mind of what took place during your doctor's visit. Thanks for sharing parts of your journey with us :)

    Rach

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  15. Jumping isn't enough and yet it's such a critical move for discovering new facets...and you know this as is shown in this eloquent piece. Hugs, Belinda

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  16. Very nice, Indigo. Have you read Jeffrey Deaver's A Maiden's Grave? The protagonist is deaf, and one of the best I've ever read.

    http://www.jefferydeaver.com/Novels_/A_Maiden_s_Grave/a_maiden_s_grave.html

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  18. I'm all with you for swimming deeper, but lately I've been on shore only wading occasionally. so perhaps you & your entry here can help me to take another leap of faith. only time will tell. Loved this entry, deafness or knot, the similarities are the same with life. much Love & hugz..my hat's off to you!!!!

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  19. Hail, Your Goodness. I loved jumping off the pier and swimming. But one day as I was swimming back and forth someone removed the pier. I think the best things in life are the things we do for ourselves, amd that includes other people.

    D

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  20. I think you are moving to the next level, while not liking your situation, accepting and adapting. Hugs to you friend.

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  21. You're definitely much more than the novelty of the day! But it's kind of cute that they were so pleased by the situation. Kinda weird, but cute, too. Hugs, Beth

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  22. The older I get, the more I swim deeper far from the pier.

    Lovely writing, by the way.

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  23. Beautiful post, Indigo!! Thanks for the window into your world and for the powerful analogy!! It's an invitation :-)

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  24. Your advice is going to be printed out and hung somewhere in my house. People of all walks of life need to read that daily.

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  25. I love what you've done to your blog... just a bit different a newer fresher look.

    Looking forward to your posts in 2011!

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  26. This is so profound! Thank you for helping me examine my own courage-you are an inspiration! ((hugs))

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  27. Thank you, Indigo, for continuing to share your story with us. As I struggle through my own fears, I find hope and inspiration here.

    Much appreciated.

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  28. Indigo, my guess is that maybe they felt awkward.

    I had a school friend in the last years in high school that was deaf and she often got reactions like that from people. It was bizarre when it would happen if I was there with her;normally I'd have to ask her what that was about. She'd normally just shrug and I'd know it was another one of those instances where people didn't know how to treat another human being who was different from them.

    I think revisiting things helps use adapt and change. You make miss something the first time around or some other growth makes you aware of something else you can learn from something in your past. Nothing wrong with that at all.

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  29. Oh, I love this post Indigo!!! My cute little niece is deaf and I am always amazed at her. She is very cool. And I wholeheartedly agree that risk is something everyone should take from time to time. =)

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  30. A great reminder that writers have to continue to take risks, and not get too comfortable.

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  31. That picture is very cool and I love this post. Thanks for posting the story!

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  32. A beautiful post & great words to live by! Thank you friend!

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  33. I'm new to your blog but this is some awesome writing. Very heart felt and personal...Makes me seriously want to look sight of the pier....

    - SY

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  34. hello. sorry i haven't been around in ages. you probably remember me as onestrangecat

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  35. gorgeous and exactly what i needed to hear. i need to swim.

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  36. This is why I respect and admire you. Not because you're Deaf, but because you're Deaf and you're good - in many more ways than one.

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  37. The other Rose is absolutely right, no matter what, your readers love you just the way you are.

    Hugs,Rose

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  38. So true. Live life fully. I love that. I need to embrace that more. I know I always say this to you, but your writing is beautiful. I love it.

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  39. What a beautiful post. and I love that picture.

    Jump off, I say, jump! :)

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  40. Diving into water can be scary--you can't see the bottom and you don't know if the waves will pull you under...takes a lot of bravery and heart to jump.

    FANTASTIC post!!!! :D

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  41. I wonder how it would be if you didn't talk of your deafness. It would seem disingenuous, in a way, as it has direct influence on the ways in which you experience the world. I'm glad you share what is relevant, Indigo. It tells us more of the inside of the nature of the story and you.

    I laugh a little at the doctor's response. Probably a little of what I might exhibit, pure joy and excitement seeing your skills being used. And to be fair, I get awfully excited when I see a mom interact effectively with a child at the cash when I am checking them out, or when I see any person BE themselves so wonderfully in the world. Perhaps she's just an excitable person, recognizing your beauty.

    xo
    erin

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  42. Thank you Indigo for inspiring me - I am going to follow my heart and swim deeper! I have stagnated but I'm ready to set sail even.

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  43. I might be one of the ones to say "you're good" too. Lip-reading seems like magic to me. I also would be like Paul, egging you on while you're waiting. :)

    I'm trying to move farther away from the pier this year in many areas of my life. Keep swimming!

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.