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Lessons learned through disability

I’m don’t know who said it, or who thought we should adopt the phrase “failure is not an option” but I’m relatively certain whoever it did not live with a disability. Good for them; I guess? I am certain they lived an overly privileged life to never be introduced to failure. The other possibility is that the person who said it was misquoted, and it should be: Failure is not an option, it’s a requirement.

I have been struggling with failure recently if you haven’t guessed already. Failure is nothing new to me. It’s more a fact of life. Living life with a disability has a way of teaching you lessons early that many wait most of their life to learn. What surprises me about it this time though is that I’m frustrated with myself over it. The problem is that I’m not trying to learn something new, making my body do something it hasn’t done before, or do something in a new way. I expect failure then. I think it was Nicola Tesla that invited failure, saying that he didn’t fail, in fact. He just learned new ways how NOT to do something. His genius and statements like this have always given me drive when learning new things. Of course, I like to combine this with a quote from Chow in “The Hangover” “…but did you DIE?” For me if I failed and didn’t die, whatever I failed at just taught me how not to do whatever it was I was attempting.

Recently I have begun to learn the lessons of getting older and doing so with a disability. I’ve noticed that not only do my major muscle groups tighten without upkeep but my fine motor skills are also fair game. I’ve been an Information Technology professional for about 20 years now. This has brought me through everything from Level 1 call center, to deskside support, to building desktops, servers, running and building cables; I’ve done it all just this side of programming. I understand how to read a good portion of several languages and the logs they produce, I just don’t have the desire to write it.

I mention all of this because my home network is growing past casual use and is heading toward industrial requirements. This doesn’t concern me, but it’s starting to look like the proverbial cobbler with no shoes. I still work in IT, but I do it remotely so my internet use is just this side of business class, I have a secure VPN router just to connect directly back to my employer in Hartford, CT.  My wife also works just feet from me with her businesses, then add in the typical social media and streaming use of two nearly teenage girls. I have network devices, cables, laptops, and PCs EVERYWHERE. I’m currently building a server from ‘bare metal’ up purposely for Voiceover. Here is where I found a problem. I am having trouble making the small connections to the system board. I even bought an adapter (that is supposed to work but didn’t). Next, I want to clean up the network cables so I went ahead and broke out my network tools. The same connections I’ve made dozens of times now cramp my hands and are inconsistent. I have to ask for help and walk my wife through building a PC. I also have to buy new connectors that help me work around dexterity issues.

I understand the lesson here is that YOU are not defined by what you do. However, there is a level of frustration that needs to be dealt with. I also have to come to terms with the fact that what used to drive me I’d rather put it off for weeks. This must mean that new opportunities are coming for me. I’m feeling excited about looking for what may be next. It’s going to be fun!

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4 thoughts on “Lessons learned through disability

  1. Nancy K. June 5, 2017 at 12:42 pm Reply

    You GO, Dan!

  2. Liz Ptak June 5, 2017 at 8:31 am Reply

    You got this – I truly hope that the new challenges don’t get you too down – and the flipside is that your wife has a new “hobby” building computers!

  3. disneyholicdee June 4, 2017 at 8:51 pm Reply

    Actually the phrase “Failure is not an option” was never uttered But in an interview for the the movie Apollo 13, one of the mission control guys was asked: “Weren’t there times when everybody, or at least a few people, just panicked?” He answered: “No, when bad things happened, we just calmly laid out all the options, and failure was not one of them.” That caught the director’s attention, who turned it into the movie’s tag line and attributed it to Gene Keanu, who then named his autobiography accordingly. I can get behind this sentiment when all he** breaks loose. That’s how they got the astronauts back 🙂

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