Sunday, August 10, 2014


I've had writer's block lately, but after a month, I have thought of something to write!  And this blog layout is looking really messy.  I plan to fix it someday........  but making things pretty is never at the top of my priority list.

Last night our family (3 of us) went to a production put on by Phamaly. Phamaly is a professional musical theater (they do plays as well) company whose actors all have at least one disability.  They are always amazing.  Last night's "Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat" was no different.

The story is based on Joseph, from Genesis.  Joseph is a dreamer and has a special "coat of many colors" given to him by his father.  Thus, because he is the only one of his brothers with a special coat, his brothers despise him, sell him as a slave, and say he has died.  Joseph (this is a brief summary!) rises through the ranks in Egypt, eventually gets back to where his brothers are, reveals himself, gets his coat back, and reunites with his father.  The end.

Phamaly always gives a different "spin" to its productions. This time they started the musical with people in a mental institution, who have no hope of leaving, singing the song "Any Dream Will Do" (meaning they wish something good could happen in their lives).  The story transitions to the Joseph story when someone appears to give the patients hope.  The song "Any Dream Will Do" is gripping because it tells of the reality of many people with disabilities - that we can feel lost with our dreams completely out of reach, where perhaps what we want to do "when we grow up" may be impossible because of circumstances beyond our control - perhaps how people perceive people who use wheelchairs or walkers - perhaps how people perceive what others will think when seeing someone with a walker or wheelchair.  We are perceived as not being able to do some things.The song brought tears quickly in this context, as  I sat watching and relating the scene to my own life, to things that happen again and again and again, to me and others with disabilities, feeling stuck, wanting a dream to come true, wanting someone to hear us, and quite honestly, often feeling trapped. And then comes Joseph.

In the middle of the musical, Joseph is in jail after he is set up for a crime that he didn't commit.  In prison, before he starts his rise in Egypt, he sings "Close Every Door," and just as earlier in the show, this song had a different feel to it when being done by Phamaly.  Close Every Door felt like reality slapping me in the face, again, if  I am totally honest.  I should say I am lucky and have had many, many opportunities that I fully appreciate.  But there are times, and very recent times, when it feels like every door is closed, there is no way out in a particular part of life - I am stuck in my own cell.  And I know this happens to others.  Once it was pointed out to me by someone else, because although I had somewhat recognized it, they saw it clearly, shook their head, and said, "it's not going to change."  That was within the last 2 months.

While this all sounds negative, it really isn't.  Watching this brought reality front and center, and helped me to feel that I am not alone in chasing seemingly impossible dreams and seeming to find every door closed.

After the production came the smiles, hugs, and happiness.  I haven't seen a Phamaly production for 3 years.  Things, life, got in the way.   I forgot another part of why I love Phamaly.  Afterward the actors came out to greet people.  I got to see Leonard, who I have gotten to know just a bit over the years, and he gave me a big hug.  I got to see Kelly, who uses a wheelchair, and we exchanged big hugs.  In this setting, I felt at home, not different, and loved.  I felt I belonged and that disability didn't matter, so different from watching the production.  I wanted to cling to it all and not leave, but here I am, writing about it, without really explaining everything about my life, what dreams I chase, and what doors are closed, because quite simply, I can't write that here. 

I am thankful for all the good things in my life, for all the people who care deeply about me, for all the people who have helped me make seemingly impossible dreams come true.  And I am also thankful to Phamaly, for showing the reality that still exists for me and others with disabilities in society, because by showing what they showed, we begin to move toward the dreams and closed doors that right now are out of reach.