What I have found most moving at the various events is the inevitable approach by a stranger who tells me about a parent, a relative, a friend who is experiencing or experienced some extreme difficulty, often associated with polio but not always, and the troubles that a friend or relative went through to maintain even a semblance of mobility.
The stories don't come with questions or even comments really, they are simply a sharing. It is as if me being there, my book being published is a reason to talk about what they witnessed, the at times incredible pain and effort people sometimes have to make to overcome an illness, to manage a disability. I am reminded again and again that the Buddhist notion that 'life is suffering' has a crystal clear ring of truth at its very core. People endure pain, confront obstacles and wrestle with sometimes near impossible difficulties and for the most part there is no forum, no occasion, no time to discuss or share this most basic reality.
Far too often we find ways of being glib, avoiding difficult conversations, all in the interest of not troubling another person with our own burdens. What we miss, what we lose is that most basic of connections, that sharing of our common humanity. I met one man who describe a near relative who had struggled his whole life with even the most basic mobility and he wanted to know if his nephew would enjoy the book or would the book make him sad. I said I didn't know and we talked a bit about the nephew and his approach to life and then we talked about the book and he nodded his head and said, "I think he might enjoy it," and he asked me to sign the book. As he walked away I thought, wow, would I enjoy this book if I hadn't written it, if it wasn't about my life? I think so, but it is a question I am wrestling with. I never intended my story to be 'inspirational' and some of the most pleasing comments I have received describe the telling as open, honest, blunt. For now, as I mull this over, that will do.