Friday, December 21, 2007

"Well, He sure had You Pegged "

I want to share a story from last summer. I was visiting my parents, who live near Rocky Mountain National Park. We (Ricki, and I, along with my mother who is an excellent hiker) had spent a large part of the previous two weeks hiking. I enjoy hiking, and my mom had the patience to take things slowly. This allowed me to attempt hikes that probably most people my weight (which at that time was about 150 kilos!) would not try. (Besides, having hiked a lot with my family as a child, I KNEW what I was missing if I didn't make the effort and go.) Among other hikes, we trekked up to Bierstadt Lake, a hike that involves a respectable gain in altitude. I was very gratified that I had put in the effort.
During the same week I noticed in the park's newsletter about a historical site that I felt would be informative for Ricki, and I also wanted her to see the not too-far-from-there continental divide. My mother kindly agreed to drive us there.
Arriving at the site's entrance, we set out on the level and (for us) laughably easy half-mile walk to the site's main structures. Mid-way there, we met a ranger driving a golf cart (used for the disabled to reach the site) back to the entrance. Taking one look at me, (or rather, as my sizable girth) he suggested that we could use the cart if needed.
"Oh no", laughed my mom, "We really don't need it."
"Well," he countered, if it gets too hard for you to return, you can have them call me…"
"I don't really think it will be necessary", I interrupted, adding: "We climbed to Bierstadt this week…."
He beat a hasty retreat, and my mom quipped "Well, he sure had you pegged' didn't he…"
Yes, he did

The sad think is that we all tend to peg each other. Fat people get pegged. Those with intellectual disabilities get pegged. Orthodox Jews get pegged. _________ ( fill in any group) gets pegged.
This classification of people by external signs helps us get along in the world. It helps us know what to expect from others and how to react to them. The problem is that it limits our abilities to truly envision what others can do, and to encounter them as individuals.

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