Appropriately enough, just in time for blogging against disablism day, my knee gave out. I've been limping around whining all day rather than getting stuff done.
The one thing I thought this morning, crawling my way out of bed and wincing, was that I wished I had a chair. If I did have a wheelchair lying around here somewhere, just about every one of the basic tasks that suddenly became painful and difficult would've been easy for me. And I could have stood, or walked, any time I get tired of sitting and felt like my aching knee could tolerate it.
I remember feeling surprised that this thought occurred to me without any shame attached to it. I didn't think that it was a useful, but regrettable, solution. I just thought "Hey, if I had a chair, I wouldn't have to be annoyed right now, and I would be building up arm strength for an added bonus. "
It's funny how your outlook changes, and things just become useful. Years ago, I would've thought of using a wheelchair as unathletic--quite possibly thought of it that way even when I was using one, and building up more strength in my arms than I ever had before or since. These days I almost miss it, not just because it would help to avoid occasional annoyances like this, but because how much more of a well-rounded workout would I get if most of the time I got around on my legs, and then at home I practiced wheeling myself around?
Maybe that's not quite as awesome as it sounds to me in the abstract right now with a throbbing knee, but I think it does reveal something profound about the way we think of these things. Thoughts like the ones I had this morning might not occur to most able-bodied people, who would be used to seeing being in a chair as less active, less exercise, weaker, etc. Those thoughts happen once you've lived in both worlds and seen just how normal both ways of moving and being are.
So I guess I'm not really blogging against ableism right now, so much as I'm blogging about points of view, and which points of view are accessible to you when. I'm not so sure that I believe that people who aren't members of certain groups can't understand those groups' experiences at all. But I do think that there experiences that people don't usually have, and it takes a lot of mental effort to wrap your mind around them if you haven't been there. And that, more than anything else, is why consciousness raising can still be important.
Used wrong, consciousness raising is a weapon that people use to shut each other up, or to brag about who has it worse, or to deem other people stupid and incapable of empathy. Used correctly, it's about unearthing experiences like these and making sure everyone hears about them and has at least a chance to understand them.