According to the calendar on my home office wall, a new year is just round the corner. With that thought in mind, I was not surprised when my imagination presented an image of a caterpillar readying itself for a metamorphic event. So, I have to ask–if I’m imagining myself as a caterpillar caught in change then: “What metamorphosis can a 63-year old permanently disabled communication scholar experience?”
But before I answer that question I want to share with you a discovery I made about some labels that have attached themselves to me over the past years. And like the caterpillar, I found that these labels needed shedding!
The first label to go is the one marked “old.” Yes, the wrinkles of time have embedded themselves on me permanently. However, what the years have taught me is that time is not my enemy. Every year that I celebrate is in fact a year for celebration.
Permanently disabled? I never sought nor wanted that label. And yet once applied it stuck like dried molasses to the sides of its container. It took me many years to realize that disabled and unable are two different states of understanding. It’s true that I am no longer able to do some of the things that I used to do. Muscular dystrophy takes its toll. However, redefining and recognizing new abilities lifted that label’s limitations–spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.
And finally, the communication scholar label. Although I’m no longer teaching in a traditional university classroom, I haven’t stopped teaching. While hosting a radio program this last year, I continued to share my passion for stories and their influence. With each broadcast, my listening audience learned about the power of stories to transmit values. So, I’m okay with swapping out the label of “traditional scholar” for wings of digital freedom and flexibility.
Returning to my original question: Into what am I being metamorphosed or transformed? From the perspective of a 63-year old permanently disabled communication caterpillar, I believe that my newly emerging wings and remixed interests are heading me straight toward a runway of imagination, values, and storytelling.
Once airborne, my flight strategy is to let communication (written and visual), a growing interest in paper sculpture, along with stories of value act as both my pilot and flight path. I plan to document my journey here on my blog—so come back and visit soon. As one of my favorite comic book super hero use to say: “Up. Up. And, away!”
Living life in 2013,
Mary Buck, PhD
Executive Director, Children’s Storytelling & Family Literacy Corp
The Sustainable American Family Program
–Stories which shape the heart for life–