I sat in the audience last night with tears streaming down my face. The young man causing the tears spoke into the microphone, reading a piece of work he’d written as part of a writing workshop. He wrote that he wished people could see the other side of him, that he wished he could be an Olympic sprinter, that he wished people knew how smart he is. His words were sincere and well thought out and they made me cry. His piece was titled Understanding Not Standing and he read the piece from his wheelchair, his body contorted, but his mind, obviously, quite capable.
This reading was part of an event put on by Write Around Portland, a local writer’s group that, as part of their mission, provides writing opportunities for those who might not otherwise have a voice. The writers who read their pieces last night were often amazing and always sincere. I laughed, I cried, my heart swelled. Write Around Portland is the group that puts on the monthly writing workshop I’ve been participating in since January. I didn’t realize when I started writing with them I would have the opportunity to experience something like the event I attended last night. I was reminded, again, new experiences, though sometimes scary, can be an ignition switch to renewed enthusiasm and purpose. Listening to Kyle Burkett read last night, I was moved to a new understanding. I saw beyond his wheelchair and, with tears in my eyes, I wished all his wishes could come true.