I changed my mind. Instead of another set of funnies, I decided to reprint “Welcome to Holland” for this week’s Provision. It is a modern fable and, even though it is quite different and much more profound, in terms of the condition described, it nevertheless speaks to my own experience of struggling my way back to life and living with epilepsy. The story was written by Emily Perl Kingsley in 1987.
I hope you appreciate this story. It gives you some clue as to what my experience has been like over the past year as well as an opportunity to understand the challenges I now face in working my way through this challenging autoimmune disorder. It is a crazy, crazy time – but at least I am here. In 1987 Emily Perl Kingsley wrote this short story:
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability–to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagined how it would feel. It’s like this….
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip–to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The MichelangeloDavid. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrase in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland”.
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place full of pestilence, famine, and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a while new group of people you would never have otherwise met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower paced and less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there a while you catch your breath, you look around…and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills…and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy…and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away…because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.
But…if you spend the rest of your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the special, the very lovely things…about Holland.
Seven to eight million Americans have intellectual disabilities; one out of ten American families is effected directly by mental retardation. Down syndrome is the more common form of intellectual disability, occurring in about one of every eight hundred births in the United Sates. Down syndrome also leads to still births, heart defects, loose joints, thyroid defects, loose joints, thyroid disorders, a malformed digestive tract, leukemia, early-onset Alzheimer’s’ symptoms, celiac disease, shortness, obesity, hearing and vision problems, infertility, immune deficiencies, a small mouth, and a protruding tongue. It can even lead to epilepsy, although that is not the cause of my condition.
I obviously have a lot to celebrate and for which to be thankful. In fact, I just came back in from my own version of a triathlon: running around the lake is on, biking over to a local park, and sitting in our hot tub. Now it’s time to get ready for the Mayo Clinic. It’s time time to see how far I’ve come and to chart out a course for going even farther. Please keep me and my family in your thoughts and prayers.
Coaching Inquiries: What can you enjoy about your life right now, just the way it is? How can you find things to celebrate, regardless of what may be the disabilities? What strength, vision, and courage will that take? What’s keeping you from digging deep or finding a coach to make it so?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
Blessings as you head back to the Mayo Clinic in the next few weeks. You and your family will remain in my prayers – and I join with countless others praying that what they find is the “second possibility”.
The next door neighbor in our office building is a company called Posit Science. They have brain games and memory-enhancing activities. Just something for you check out! All the best to you as you go back to Mayo.
Provision #824 brought a smile with the seaplane. Your sharing of your experiences provides another source for me to reflect upon with changes I am experiencing as I read about your journey. Right now, my reflections are more akin to looking in a lake where the image shimmers, disappears when a wake comes by, and reappears. When situations change, so too should our actions. I am trying to traverse from what I knew to what I now know and it is not the easiest. Especially, considering that in the past, my path was clear even if the route had overlooks along the way. When you shared your commitment to doing what works to promote your brain’s recovery followed by the coaching inquiries, the two in combination resonated with me.
The only things we can say are: We wish you all the best – really much indeed !!! For you Bob and for Megan as well !!! You and your whole family certainly still have a really hard time to pick yourselves up from this. That said, it´s always so good for us to read that you seem to think positively and believe in God. We wish you all the best really much indeed !!
May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
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Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
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