Posts Tagged ‘Ben Okri quote’

This is what you must be like. Grow wherever life puts you down. (Ben Okri)

Scot wears a shirt that says: It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Perhaps that is because he doesn’t see the optimist’s glass as half-full; he sees it as close to overflowing. He doesn’t need a thrill ride at an amusement park. Trying on hats at Walmart can make his day.

When Scot was born fifty-one years ago, his tripled twenty-first chromosome dubbed him a mongoloid, an anomaly. Few people in those days saw beyond the almond-shaped eyes, small ears, and lowered muscle tone.

However, on February 4, 51 years ago the obstetrician told Scot’s dad that his newborn son had Down syndrome. He advised Dad not to tell Scot’s mother. The pediatrician would do it. His reason was not to protect Mom for just a little longer—it was to allow her to bond with Scot, to hold and to fall in love with him. Then when the pediatrician told her what to expect, he could also advise her to treat Scot as she would any other child. In this way his parents could face challenges, not impossible roadblocks.

Scot’s gift is hugging. He does not make judgments based on appearance. He chooses the person he will embrace next for his own reasons; he never explains why. Possibly that individual needs his positive energy—that over-sized woman at the mall whose eyes say life has dealt her more blows than she can handle, or the elderly man who hasn’t been touched in years.

This is Scot’s approach. He stands before someone, extends his arms and then watches for a response. If the person is responsive he offers his love, no strings attached. He has the kind of simplicity that is the essence of genuine love. Most people without the burden of an extra chromosome bear the weight of ego—viewing who-they-are as superior or inferior. Scot doesn’t get caught up in drama. He is who he is.

In fact, one of his favorite possessions is a stuffed toy rat. Somehow since Scot is someone who doesn’t judge, that doesn’t surprise me.

Many people may look at folk like Scot, or my Ella, and see the characteristics that suggest slower learning, perhaps a thickened tongue causing slowed speech. They turn away or make snide remarks. I’ve had people tell me they were sorry when I have told them my granddaughter had Down syndrome.

My response has been that I am not sorry at all. My Ella is only five-years-old and I can’t imagine life without her. Scot has been on this planet ten times longer. He has blessed people without knowing he is doing it, the purest form of giving. Is he perfect? Of course not. No one is.

But someday I hope to see the beauty in a rat, the homeliest person in the mall, and every gray ordinary day—just like Scot can. In the meantime, I will simply let as many people as possible know that Down syndrome does not mean down-anything-or-anyone. And when you see a man, woman, or child like Scot in the picture below, know that you are witnessing possibilities…


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