Monday, July 19, 2010

Trails and Trials of a Wheelchair Photographer

Of all the terrains I have been on this one looks fairly simple. I rarely challenge my scooter's mobility when I am on a solo shoot. I am comfortable with pavement and shallow gravel and trails through low cut grass. I did recently get into a situation that was a steep incline and of all of my concerns I never thought that a stall on a steep hill would happen. Especially with well charged batteries. That is exactly what happened. I almost topped a  steep incline, not much higher than the one pictured here and right before reaching the top my scooter stalled and stopped.

Having a fear of heights I was determined not to look back the very long slowly rising incline. I pulled my key out and pushed it back in to try to restart it but nothing. The circuit had been thrown and the button I needed to reset it was out of reach from my position. This is typically when anger and fear ultimately kick in. I got my cellphone and called my husband. While I was waiting I cursed under my breath. I not only cursed my scooter but the manufacturers of scooters as well and recalled all the arguments that I have had with the healthcare system that having a physical challenge does not mean that life and adventure has to stop. If engineers who design these mobility scooters would consult the physically challenged to arrange little safety buttons where they can be reached from a sitting position, my life that day and the days ahead would be much easier.

Logically I knew I was safe, the anti lock breaking system would ensure that the scooter wouldn't roll backwards and even if it did there was a long steady stretch that would give me plenty of time to stop. I was in a straight position so as long as I didn't twist around too much it wasn't going to tip over, it was just the idea of having my back to a hill.

When my husband got there he released the break and turned me around and I coasted down the hill. At which point we removed my battery, hit the reset button and restarted the scooter, I by that time had a smile back on my face.

In a world of flourishing technology you would think that options for people with a few physical challenges would have better tools to utilize (within affordable reach) but my husband would tell you that I would just push my limitations more and find new ways to get myself in trouble. =  )

Monday, July 12, 2010

Independence Day Parade 2010

In my Sophomore year of college I went through a very metamorphic and painful change. It was my year of enlightenment, the year I realized that the more I learned the more I knew very little about this world, the universe and how things work. I went head to head with an English professor whose heart and soul was into that years presidential election. That year I stood on everything that I was taught to believe and voted for a President that if I had known what it meant, the things that would transpire after and the regret I would feel afterward I would have never voted that way.

It is very difficult to give up what you know sometimes when you have held on to it for so long, even for the truth. However, there comes a time when you have to ask yourself do you really want your fundamental beliefs centered around something you know is a lie?

In this picture are some kids riding on a float in the 4th of July parade. Independence Day! The day that marks freedom and liberty. The kids are all holding signs that represent what freedom in America means to them. I was able to catch a single moment and while I am certain that it was not the intent of the children, I was left with an image that struck a chord deep in my heart.

The girls holding the signs that read Betsy Ross and Sarah Palin are both looking away from the very sad looking kid holding the Martin Luther King sign. I am sure that he was wishing to be somewhere else but the symbolism of the moment reminded me made me think of the division that this country is moving toward. Maybe it is only because that, thanks to that English professor, I am more aware of that growing line. Or maybe that division has become more visible with the election of our first black president and it is rippling through other minority groups. Fundamentalists desperately trying to hold on to the way things were and reaching back in history to grab onto something thats gone, blow the dust off of it and repackage it to work for today.

I know that is a lot to get from one photograph, and perhaps I am reaching a bit. But the 4th of July and it's reminder of freedom, liberty and everyones right to the pursuit of happiness left its impression on me that day, and for my little part of what I can offer America in the way that I vote will never again be left to blind confidence but will be researched and challenges and thought out.