In 1982, I met Judith Snow. after a close friend of hers, came recruiting people who could work as her Attendants. Judith was brilliant thinker. Physically, she could breathe, chew and digest, and move her right thumb ever so slightly to activate a switch that controlled the movement of her very large wheelchair. For everything else she required someone to act as her arms and legs. That was the job of her attendants. I took on the job, and developed a friendship that lasted more than 30 years, and gave me an understanding of giftedness that I want to explore in this series of blogposts that I am calling "The Courage To Be Gifted".
I discovered so much about myself when I learned to let go, trust, and follow Judith.
In many ways, my job as Judith’s Attendant sounded simple —I would take on the function of arms and legs, something that I do everyday in my own life. As a young man of 24, I was pretty sure I knew how to do this…that is, until I started.
I was physically strong, intelligent, and had no shortage of ideas about how to do things. In the beginning I paid attention to the tasks -- getting Judith dressed or undressed, in and out of bed, or the car, driving, feeding her. I used my mind, and my body to do what I thought needed to be done.
But the job was to be Judith’s arms and legs; to be directed by her mind, her intentions, and her desired outcomes, and support her unique way of being in the world, and let go of any preconceived notions about what this would mean. In the beginning, I did not know where I was going, or why, and why it was important to go in this way.
So, in the space between thoughts that would direct my movement, and action that would result, there was more than enough room for the two of us to mentally wrestle, seeing who would be in control, whose thoughts would win. Of course my mind was convinced that everything would work much quicker if I was the center of control. My mind was not prepared to give up so easily. In the milliseconds required for movement to happen, I could feel the resistance created by Judith’s thought and intention. Sometimes it came through in her words, her tone, the sound of her breath, the electric silence, or worst of all, a wash of defeat when she would be too tired to resist.
But the whole point and purpose of my employment was for Judith to be in control — of her body, her ordinary life, her pursuit of work, her relationships, and the dreams that only she could imagine.
Eventually I discovered that when I could align myself with this purpose, there was a cavernous space, an opening, where distractions slipped away. In that space I was engaged, and liberated.
More than once I have been blessed with the opportunity to be present when a child is born, …the births of my two daughters, my nieces and nephew, and most recently, our granddaughter. I can only describe it as receiving an incredible gift. It is an awe filled experience leading me to wonder how the gifts held within this tiny body that entirely depends on others to survive, will be made known as time passes.
I have learned so much about “the gifts” that we each carry, through relating with, observing, and listening to Judith Snow, who passed away, May 31, 2015 at the age of 65.
An exploration of writing as a means of paying attention to themes that have captured my interest. --justice as "right" relations; gifts as what we have to offer; and beauty --within us, around us; and in all our relations.
Copyright ©2016 David Hasbury. All Rights Reserved.,