Artie Abrams is one of the primary characters on the Fox sitcom, Glee. Artie was in a car accident in the 8th grade that paralyzed him from the waist down. If you are unfamiliar with Glee, it is a musical, comedy set in a contemporary American high school, that focuses on an outcast group of kids who find a home in the Glee club. In a recent episode, Artie shares his dream to be able to dance again and this is what happens – Safety Dance
I may run the risk of having my “man card” suspended, but I thought that was pretty cool. It was easy to appreciate the dancing and allow my head to bob with the music, but forget that Artie was having a dream. He is paralyzed. He is in a wheelchair. He can’t dance… can he?
Watching the video made me feel sad. A part of me wanted to fight against the idea that Artie would dream to be out of his wheel chair.
“He is happy in his chair, it’s a part of him, it’s who he is!”
At the same time, I applauded his dream and I would hope right alongside him to be able to dance again. It made me wrestle with my views of the extraordinary people around us.
My sister spent most of her live in the ordinary world; but thanks to a car accident she’s one of the extraordinary. I know (meaning, I believe way down deep) that she would LOVE to dance again, so to speak. As much as she has embraced her new wheels, new crutches, and new life; I would bet a bag of Cheetos that she would love nothing more than have no need of them. I would too.
But, is someone who is born extraordinary different? Do the blind yearn for sight? Do the deaf year to hear? Does my son yearn to dance?
I think so.
I have written over and over again on this blog how I often envy Caedmon, because of his many strengths and qualities. At the same time, I feel sympathy for him. You don’t have to watch a group of kids run around on a playground while Caedmon sits in his chair and watches more than once to develop a broken heart. As strong as he is and as determined as he is; I believe that moments like those cause him to want to dance. I hate it!
I hate it because I am selfish and feel inconvenienced at times. Mostly I hate it because I want him to be able to run and play like with his friends. I love that the monkey bars are fun and hate that they divide. Most playgrounds aren’t designed with wheelchairs or walkers in mind and I hate it. I hate that I would have designed them the same way – before I met Caedmon.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand what is ultimately important. I am the preacher of rethinking our expectations and weeding out the unrealistic success standards that we embrace. I believe that there is more happening than I can see or appreciate. I know that God loves me and God loves Caedmon. Shoot, God loves Caedmon so much more than I do that quantifying it is impossible. But he wants to dance. There has to be a way to help him do just that.
While the first video represents the miraculous. I think this video captures appropriately the place where Artie’s dream collides with his practical reality – Dancing With Myself.
Where do we come in? Those of us living the more ordinary lives. Those of us who love those that dream and want to help them. How to we offer a hand? I have a couple of thoughts:
- We cannot let our fear or ignorance prohibit us from approaching those living extraordinary lives.
- We cannot assume that we know what someone else needs or wants. For instance, someone in a wheelchair might not care about the Olympics or the NFL. Their dreams might consist of playing the violin or writing the great American novel.
- We cannot let their unique circumstance be an excuse.
- We cannot be afraid to be realistic. Did you know that if there were only 15 million males in America, the chance of them playing in the NFL is .000106666667? So if you are in a wheelchair or 6’5″ and run a 4.5, your chances are slim 🙂
Basically, we need to be willing to approach, understand, appreciate, and get creative.
For Artie’s classmates, that looked like this – Proud Mary
What does it look like for you? I don’t know. But I do know that we all have a dream and we have a great opportunity to help one another realize that dream.
Sympathy without activity is self-indulgent and powerless.
Sympathy that prompts activity is self-sacrificial and powerful.
If your dreamer wants to run, find a way.
If your dreamer wants to sail, find a way.
If your dreamer wants to write a play, find a way.
If your dreamer want to dance…