Recently it occurred to me that sometimes it’s easy to forget about all the wonderful things we take for granted. The little things that make existence easier for us even when it might seem that life is difficult or we have the problems of the whole world stacked up and resting upon on shoulders. I found myself particularly guilty of this so I thought it was time for me to do a little exercise to remind myself how many gifts I have and don’t appreciate.
I think I got the idea from a movie or maybe it was a homework assignment from a hippie grade school teacher I had, but I thought I was overdue for a little reality check.
Day 1 – The night before I put on a blindfold and I kept it on for 24 hours to mimic the effects of being blind. I went blindfold despite my earlier claims that if I were blind I would instead wear two eye patches so I’d look like the most bad-ass pirate ever. I figured if the object was to appreciate my eyesight it wouldn’t help if I spent the day walking around looking all bad-ass. Not that I did a lot of walking. Blindness definitely sucks, especially when I’m watching TV and the other people in the room refuse to describe what’s going on because they think the idea of wearing a blindfold all day is stupid and also I had spilled a large amount of soda and snacks during the course of the day … again because they refused to help me out. Being blind is certainly an eye-opener when it comes to who your friends really are.
Day 2 – I stuffed my ears full of cotton and then duct taped a pair of headphones over my ears the night before, which wasn’t easy due to the fact that I was still wearing the blindfold, with the goal of waking up deaf. Mission accomplished! Let me tell you something, you ever want to get a good night’s sleep give being deaf a whirl. You want to talk peaceful! Especially when you don’t wake up until 10 because you can’t hear the alarm. Now, obviously, I didn’t have time to learn sign language so I pretty much kept to myself all day as people didn’t seem to appreciate my attempts to communicate the way I’ve heard deaf people talk. I thought my impersonations were spot on but I guess some people have thin skin, still hard to believe someone would take the time to write “you sound like a bull seal in heat” on a napkin and hand it to me. Bottom line though, being deaf is very relaxing.
Day 3 – Starting to run out of handicaps. After the nightmare of trying to take off the duct tape and subsequently losing at least 20% of the hair on my head I settled upon removing my sense of smell for the following day. Let me tell you something, when you stick cotton up your nose everyone else in the house will wish they were deaf because you snore like crazy. I’m sure the rest of the animal kingdom would really get their panties in a twist if they lost their sense of smell but let me tell you, we human really don’t need it anymore. The only drawback was that my nose wouldn’t stop running and I kept having to remove the nasal plus and give it a good blow. Other than that I couldn’t tell you one time I missed the smell of anything. In fact, if anything it was a pleasant change from the usual odors that assail me every time I walk into my bathroom. At about Noon I decided that not having a sense of smell really isn’t a handicap at all and decided to switch to having a stutter. Obviously the first thing to do was make a mix CD to get me in the mood so I quickly downloaded and burned “You Ain’t Seen N-n-nothing Yet”, “M-m-my Sharona“, “My G-g-generation“, “Ch-ch-changes“, “F-f-foolin” and “B-b-bad to the Bone” to get me in the mood. A little-known scientific fact to pass along, and if it’s not it should be, if you listen to all those songs in a row you end up singing “B-b-b-b-bad to the B-b-b-b-b-b-bone” whether you want to or not and completely embarrassing yourself. Stuttering is as annoying as the loss of smell isn’t.
Day 4 – I couldn’t really take away my senses of taste or touch so I decided to be retarded for the day. Not a little retarded either, I went full-on retarded and let me tell you one thing, one horribly politically incorrect thing, it is fun as hell being retarded. Granted, if you’re actually retarded then you probably don’t enjoy it as much because you’re too retarded to enjoy it. Ironically, that sentence came off a bit retarded. But anyway, this whole trying to appreciate the gifts I’ve been given in life thing is starting to head south. With the exception of my eyes, which I have to give a big shout out to, I can’t really say that the other disabilities were that bad. If I could have gotten another friend to act retarded with me I’m seriously thinking it might have been the greatest day of my life.
Day 5 – Woke up paralyzed from the waist down. Not really, but anyone seeing me make my way downstairs to start my day would have been completely fooled. Unfortunately for me my friends were getting a bit tired of my tomfoolery so they refused to be tomfooled or even play along. Apparently there is a scene in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels wherein Steve Martin’s character is attempting something very similar and Michael Caine’s character comes upon him with a switch in hand and begins to test the boundaries of his lack of feeling below the waist and my so-called friends took it upon themselves to reenact this scene repeatedly until such a time as I had to abandon the whole thing and seek ice. Let me tell you, both medical personnel and faith healers should further explore this cure as it certainly got me out of my chair and walking again, pronto.
Day 6 – Although I don’t personally think of it as a handicap I think some in our society would consider homosexuality a drawback at the very least, so I settled on that for my next challenge to live through. Much like I did with being retarded I opted for full-on gay, the kind you see at the gay pride parades that make normal gay people wince. You know the type, the wearing leather chaps and squealing and glistening and being in much better shape than I am type. Even my gay friend told me once that he thought that these parades do more harm than good to the gay community. Actually that’s not entirely correct as I don’t have a gay friend. If I did though, I imagine that he’d feel that way. It’s not that I don’t have gay friends, I’m sure that I do, it’s just that most of my male friends are married and wouldn’t want their wife and kids to find out. I just don’t have any gay friends I know about. Anyway, I went about the entire day acting really gay and it’s nowhere near as fun as being retarded. Had I another day I would have tried being a retarded homosexual, but as I wanted to wrap this up in a neat tidy week I only had 1 more day. And that day was spoken for.
Day 7 – And on the seventh day he believed that the Earth was only 6,000 years old! I woke up with the knowledge that I was created by a loving God and all was going to be well as long as I followed a few simple ground rules so I was off and believing. Now obviously not being able to actually use science or critical-thinking skills all day was going to be a hassle, but any negatives I ran into could easily be offset with the awesome hats I was going to get to wear. I’d envied them from afar for years so this was my big day. I ran right to the nearest place of worship and inquired what I needed to do to get the big pointy variety. Turns out it’s not as easy as you’d think, you can’t just buy them and throw them on and go parading around showing off your enormous new lid and, strongly implied, your closeness to the big man upstairs. It’s this big complicated thing where you have to join certain groups and move up the ranks and get picked for certain jobs and then appointed to other positions until finally you have to move closer to God and overseas to get a crack at the really big hats. You can imagine my disappointment. What’s the point of abandoning common sense if I can’t wear a gigantic hat?
As you might imagine my week of trying to appreciate what I had, turned out to be a real mixed bag. I ended up appreciating the fact that I can see a bit more, I learned that if you stutter enough you develop a stutter and I had the chance to wonder whether my gay friends, if I have any, would they find me attractive, so the week wasn’t a total loss. Of course, nobody I know is talking to me anymore, apparently this little experiment came off as slightly insensitive to some folks, but I’m sure they’ll start to miss my company and come crawling back any day now.
Self improvement is never easy.