My life changed in five minutes, playing catch with a child.
This summer, I met with Chris Holmes, the President of Penfield Children’s Center. PCC serves children from birth to age three. As they state it, “Penfield Children’s Center is a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to help infants and young children with and without disabilities to reach their full potential through education, therapy services and family programs.”
This statement says what they do, yet you cannot fully understand who they are and what PCC is like from reading it. It’s like trying to describe the taste of salt to someone who has never had it. Before our meeting, Chris took me on a tour of the facility. Bright colors, natural lighting in every single room and hallway, soft corners and nurturing people – these are some of the elements that you find walking through the building. I was especially delighted by the office windows. Typically, office windows are in the door, or maybe in the wall along the hallway, at desk level. Windows here are 2 feet off the ground, so little ones can see what’s going on in there.
So you immediately see the combination of intelligent design, intelligent and warm people, and lots of thought given to adaptive spaces that meet the needs of all children, typically and non-typically developing alike. The biggest force at PCC, though, is the children. Laughing, crying, moving, sleeping, learning, playing, being goofy, waving hello, rushing up to hug Chris, the children brought the place to life.
And then I met Miguel and I was brought to life.
Miguel (not his real name), and his teacher were playing ball, rolling and tossing it back and forth. I stooped down to play a couple of rounds, and Miguel did better with the ball than I did, I have to say. Miguel was laughing and smiling, and he played with his whole body and lots of energy. He did not play with his hands, though, because he is not able to move his arms. Instead, Miguel uses his legs and feet and whole body to accomplish tasks that most of us reading this take for granted – eating, writing, coloring, playing.
The thought that flowed through my mind as we played was, “I have no problems.” I don’t mean this in a literal sense, that everything goes my way along the merry path. This thought is a symbol that means that I understand down to my core that I create my own reality, suffering, joy. All of the learning, meditating, reading and studying I’ve done over the years was distilled down to a single moment of awakening.
Being imperfectly human as I am, I still have challenging days, down moods, and difficulties. Since meeting Miguel, however, I can put things into perspective quickly and hold the awareness that only my attachment creates suffering. I have gratitude for all my blessings and pains, I have hope and faith, and I have Miguel to thank.