Monday, August 8, 2011

You Don't Need Eyes to See

I've had the opportunity to work with special needs children on several occasions. A good friend of mine (she's 13) has Downs Syndrome and is the cutest thing ever- she always loves brushing my hair. I've also just begun working regularly with an Autistic boy named Braxton. He is so full of light. He bursts out in random fits of laughter sometimes and his mom explained it by saying "those angels are always tell jokes at the most inopportune times"

My love for these wonderful children probably began when, in high school, I had the opportunity to work at a special needs camp called Bridge of Promise.

I was assigned to work with two little boys with unique special needs. One was named Andrew, who had a fun boy-typical personality with obsessions over cars and superheros. The other boy was named Tristen.

To this day, I am unsure of the specifics and extent of his disabilities, other than I knew he was blind. He was probably about 5 years old, but wise beyond his years. So much so that I felt like I could feel his wisdom without him saying a word.

At the camp, they had a blow up swimming pool that was filled with those little plastic balls you can find at most McDonald's. My partner Jordan and I took Tristen to play in the balls. We would run around the outside and he would through the plastic balls at us with incredible aim. His sense of sound of my feet rustling through the grass was amazing. It's as if the sound gave him sight.
He also took some time to just sit and feel the plastic. I think he could somehow imagine or sense the color of each ball despite his lack of eyesight. It was amazing how he sat and took in everything.

He truly knew how to gain the maximum amount from each moment. He studied the texture, he observed the shapes, he listened for the hollow echos. If only I could take in as much of my surrounding as Tristen did.

He also truly knew how to enjoy the simplicities of life. They had a real swimming pool as well, where the kids could swim with help. Tristen decided to just sit on the side and stick his feet in. Jordan got in and splashed Tristen's feet with the water. He thought it was the funniest thing in the world. Everytime the water touched Tristen, he would let out the most heartwarming laugh and scream "The waties gettin' me the waties gettin' me!!"

Here he was, Tristen, a boy who would forever be referred to as handicapped or impaired. He would never see the red of a rose or the green of the grass. And he would never see how beautiful his adorable little smile was. He lived life at a very different pace than the average person, but he lived life at a much more fuller pace then most. He looked at things which he could be otherwise be afraid of or incredibly frustrated with, with a smile and a laugh and would just take in the details.

I don't know how anyone could meet someone like Tristen and not be inspired to slow down just a little bit and be thankful for each moment and smile just a little more.

So next time you are tempted to complain about the rain that seems to only fall on you, notice the detail of every drop, be thankful for what it has to offer then just laugh to yourself and think with a smile "the waties gettin' me"

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