In June I attended scout camp as an "adult" leader for the fourth consecutive year. Scout camp gives one the opportunity to learn from different experiences. One thing I learned is it does not matter what the camp food looks, smells or even tastes like. These considerations are irrelevant because there is nothing else to eat, and since scouts cannot bring firearms to camp, hunting is not an option. So the camper learns to eat whatever "food" is placed before him. Another valuable lesson is to inspect bathrooms and showers before using them. One does not want to discover a tarantula or scorpion in the facility after he has commenced using it. The camper also learns to accept dirt as part of life, just as one would accept the neccessity of breathing. But these are all lessons learned previously and accepted as part of the experience called scout camp. But this time I learned something new, something about myself. I learned I have the ability to inspire.
I occupied most of my free time at the camp’s 45-foot climbing tower. One evening as I scaled the most difficult side, I overheard one of the camp's leaders remark, quite loudly, regarding the blind man climbing the tower. He was apparently talking to another adult leader and was amazed that someone who could not see could climb. Initially his obnoxious manner annoyed me but I didn't let it bother me too much. He was astounded that a blind man could also be in such good physical condition. The next day I heard the same individual, talking loudly again, telling someone about that blind man who could climb the tower so well and was in such good shape. (I suspect the only other blind people he had encountered were those who had become blind from diabetes and probably suffered from poor health.) He went on and on about how amazing it was that a "blind man" could get around and do the things I was doing. Additionally, I heard from the scouts in my troop that many others had noticed me in camp and were impressed that I was even there, much less climbing, swimming and performing the duties of a scout master.
At first, I was annoyed with the man who kept talking about me as if i wasn't even there but after reflection, I imagined myself observing someone with a significant disability and not letting it deter them from participating in camp. I realized out of approximately 1000 scouts, leaders and staff, I was the only one walking around using a cane because I could not see. It's little wonder I was being noticed. The obnoxious sounding man wasn't trying to be derogatory, he was simply impressed that someone who was blind was not only at camp, but doing things that others wouldn't even attempt. My reflections helped me to understand that by overcoming my disability I had the capacity to inspire others.
My point is not self-agrandizement but to illustrate those who have to deal with a significant disability can impact the lives of people in a positive manner by helping them appreciate their own blessings and possibly, inspire them to overcome their own personel challenges. I hope that I will continue to live my life in a manner that inspires, especially my family. I also am inspired by those who overcome adversity even greater than my own. But my situation is not unique because as Victor Frankl said in his book, "Man’s Search for Meaning”, all of us have a unique mission in life that cannot be replaced by someone else. I believe that all of us have the ability to inspire others we come in contact with. Let us all live our lives to inspire!