By: Jon Morrow
Sometimes, you don’t get to choose the tribes that you belong to. They choose you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
I’m a member of one of those tribes. It’s called the Tribe of the Disabled.
Some of us were born into the tribe. Others were brought into it by an accident or mistake. But regardless of how we arrived, no one wants to be a member.
Some people take it hard. They feel like they’ve been kidnapped from another tribe, the Tribe of Normal People. They feel like everything they were and everything they knew was taken away.
Eventually though, most of us realize that the Tribe of Normal People doesn’t actually exist. There’s no bond between the nondisabled.
There are no leaders among them. There are no rules. It doesn’t exist.
But the Tribe of the Disabled does exist. It’s a common link between all of us, and we know it, even without saying anything.
We have rules, like, “Don’t stare” or “Be encouraging.” It’s strange, but we also tend to stay away from each other, as if being around one another could remind us that we are a member of the tribe. We prefer to forget.
Still, we have common leaders, people that inspire us. Christopher Reeve was one of those leaders. He inspired us with his audacity, his activism, and his compassion. We were so sad when he left us, but that’s the way this tribe is. Our leaders don’t last long.
It’s an unusual tribe, I know. For the longest time, I didn’t want to be a part of it. I believed that accepting my membership would weaken me, like I would be accepting my own death. So many of us die, after all. It’s the most common way out of the tribe.
But you know what? I was wrong.
This tribe isn’t about death. It’s about courage.
It takes courage to look at yourself and accept your imperfections. It takes courage to love yourself anyway. It takes courage to go beyond merely trying to survive your life and start trying to actually enjoy it.
How could you complain about being in a tribe like that? It’s wonderful.
Would I still like to be cured of my disease? Would I trade a healthy body for my membership in the Tribe? Sure I would.
But do I regret being a part of it? No way!
When you learn to accept yourself, you also learn to accept the tribes you belong to. They don’t have to be rich or clever or even desirable. The fact is, it’s your tribe.
And sometimes, that’s all that matters.
(Taken from THE TRIBES CASEBOOK)