I’ve been taking our travels, and all the time I have in my new wheelchair, as an opportunity to practice my outdoor pushing. This means, for example, pushing from the parking spot to the hotel rather than being dropped off at the front door. It also means seeing a funky looking coffee shop across the street and instead of driving there, rolling over and back.

I admire wheelchair users who push themselves outside. I know the skill and the strength it takes. Sidewalks all being built angled, driveways at even steeper angles, pushing one wheel to propel and holding the other wheel so the chair doesn’t do what gravity really wants it to do and plummet down the slope. I see other wheelchair users doing this such that it doesn’t look like work. When I do it, it looks like work.
But I’ve set a goal for myself of pushing further and further outside. When in Vancouver, I’d like to do the sea wall. Joe and I used to walk there, and we always had the best conversations when we did so. I really want to do that again. I had thought it lost to me, but I’m figuring the wheelchair and stronger arms and more skill may have made that thought premature. So, I’m aiming to do that later this year.
I’m also fighting with myself over pledging to do a 5k outdoor marathon. I’m told the track is wheelchair friendly, I’m told that, for a 5k, it’s a gentle one. I’m almost there with the decision but I want to wait until we’re travelling a little less so Joe and I can go there and give it a shot, do a kilometer or two.
Someone asked me, another wheelchair user actually, what I was trying to prove by doing these things. I hadn’t thought about these goals as political, only personal. I hadn’t thought that these goals might be seen as critical of others with disabilities. Not at all. And I confess, I still can’t see the issue. My goals are my goals and they are very personal and specific to me. I don’t feel that I’m trying to prove anything to anyone but myself.
I’ve always been sedentary. Always. As a child. As a teen. As an adult. Disability or no, my tendency was to avoid physical activity. For some reason in the last couple of years that’s changed and I enjoy feeling my body work hard. Part of this is because I figured that if I wanted to continue to travel and lecture, and I do, I had to increase my physical strength. I had to take the strain off of Joe and take it on myself – he has enough other stuff to carry and deal with. But mostly, I started, and enjoyed, the way working physically took my mind off my work and my worries.
So, now I’m wondering if I should even be writing about my adventures as a physical being pushing my own chair. I know my intent in talking about this is to document, for myself, and for those interested, my life as a disabled man – but does my privilege as a man who can push his own chair make me unable to see what my own posts are saying.
I don’t know.
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