I'd like to introduce you to my mom.
I'm guessing that's not what you expected,
and it's not what I expected either,
and thank goodness I realized
that an Asian man was not my mom
before I hugged him,
because that would have been so awkward.
isn't one of my strengths
due to a genetic visual impairment
that has no correction or cure.
As a result, I am legally blind,
though I prefer "partially sighted"
because it's more optimistic.
And I'm entitled to the label "disabled."
I hate the word disabled
when it's used to describe people.
It detonates a mindset of less than
that utterly disregards capacity,
instead prioritizing brokenness
The perspective can be overt.
What can't he do for himself
that I'm going to have to do for him?
She'll probably need some accommodation
that no other employee
at this business needs.
Sometimes, the hidden bias
is so sweetly conveyed.
look at everything you've done
in your career and your life.
How did you do all of that
and be visually impaired?"
I fail at being disabled.
So in the spirit of incentivizing
the rampant failure
of people all over the world
and enticing the so-called normal
to just give it a rest already,
here are five tips
to fail at being disabled.
know your superpowers.
The best team I ever led in my career
was based on superpowers,
and we even gave ourselves
like "the Pillar of Masterly Acumen."
"The Biscuit Butterer."
"The Voice of Reason."
Because we relied on our strengths,
our best strengths,
we achieved tremendous outcomes.
The trait that prevents me
from recognizing my mom
allows me to smoothly adapt,
to quickly absorb and accurately process
an exhausting volume of cues,
tease out what's important,
determine multiple processes or potentials
for any situation that I'm in,
and then select the one
that makes the most sense,
all in a matter of seconds.
I see what other people do not.
Some people think that's a superpower,
but my real superpowers
are ricocheting off of glass walls --
and letting my friends
walk around with kale in their teeth.
It's true. Don't have lunch with me,
Tip two: be supremely skilled,
supremely skilled at getting it wrong.
It is important to be
as equally confident in your superpowers
as you are in you FUBARs.
That's "effed up beyond all recognition"
for you millennials.
Here's a good example.
It is not a great idea to say,
"Don't worry, everything in here
is too small for me to see"
when you accidentally
walk into the men's room --
at one of the world's
largest sporting arenas --
I really wish that one wasn't true.
I'm serious. It is better to just walk out
and let them think you're drunk.
Tip three: know that everyone
is disabled in some way,
like when you have a cold
and you can't smell
and you realize that the milk
that you splashed in your coffee was sour
only after you've tasted it.
Very recently, a woman
walked up to me frantic.
She could not find
the bakery she was looking for.
As I motioned in the direction
I thought she should go,
saying, "There are no stores
on this side of the street
so your best bet is to cross --"
"Oh my goodness," she interrupted.
"There it is.
All I needed was another set of eyes."
I just let her have it.
I would have said that, you know,
being logical and paying attention
and staying calm
would have done the trick,
but who am I?
Tip four: point out
the disability in others.
This one is best reserved --
very important note --
this one is best reserved
for people you know well,
because random strangers
typically don't appreciate
A few years ago, my parents and I
went to see the Rockettes,
Radio City's high-kicking dancers.
I leaned over to my dad.
"The two Rockettes on the left
aren't kicking in a straight line."
"Yes, they are."
"No, they're not."
"Yes, they are, and how do you know?
You can't see."
But I know what
a straight line looks like.
I had snapped a picture
during our back and forth
and presented him the evidence
that proved I was right.
He looked at the picture.
I leaned in further.
"Who's disabled now?"
Tip five: pursue audacious goals.
Flip expectation upside down
and shove limitation off a cliff
to meet its demise.
There is a college football linebacker
who blitzes, tackles, recovers fumbles
while having one hand.
There is a teacher
who successfully transfers knowledge
and inspires countless students
while living with Down syndrome.
And for me,
on my long list,
to cycle from Kathmandu, Nepal,
to Darjeeling, India
on the backseat
of a bicycle built for two.
It will be an exciting 620-mile adventure,
and I'm sure I will have
the blurry photos to show for it.
Oh, before we go on,
I forgot to introduce you to my mom.
I need to do that.
And here she is,
as she would appear to me
if I were looking through a crowd
of people looking for her.
Or is that an Asian man?