The pursuit of happiness is not just a tearjerker film starring Will Smith, but an obstacle course that each of us deserves to take, because the journey is life itself and because there is always a light somewhere at the end of the tunnel, however weak it may be.
The pursuit of happiness
The pursuit of happiness is breakfast in the morning, the perfect wake-up call to whatever ends up on our plate during the day, even if we did not order it, but happiness itself is a right that every one of us has to conquer, including those who are pursuing it in a wheelchair, pushing and not walking.
Do not fence me in or team me up based on what I do not have
I am not sure for what obscure reason, but I have never felt part of a family of “labels” and I have never thought of myself as “disabled”. I have never liked being “fenced in” or “teamed up” on the basis of my physical characteristics. I have always preferred to support civil causes for collective well-being that improve things for everybody, rather than separating them and competing over “who lacks the most”.
Disabled people are masters of this art. Complaining is often our favourite lullaby, as we leave an impression of able nuisances in the collective imagination. This is also part of my own pursuit of happiness.
The integration match
Many people explain disability as if they were giving a commentary on a football match. Two teams on a field that we like to call integration. There are the normal and healthy ones, quick off the mark and scoring goals after just two passes, then there are those who are not as good, considered as second-best by the others, who hold the team back like so much ballast weighing it down, the ones whom it is best to leave on the bench for the good of the team, because even if they are just sitting there, they are still being allowed to take part. That is precisely how many small-minded people view the disabled, with the idea that “the important thing is to take part”.
But are we not allowed to be happy?
There are various preconceptions about being happy and being disabled at the same time. There is the idea that we cannot be happy because something is missing, that our existence depends entirely on the decisions of those who surround us and that the only way we can “let off steam” is through work (if that), with no other interest or relationship with other people. All we can be is children who never grow up.
Nobody has the recipe when it comes to the pursuit of happiness. All you can do is start mixing together the ingredients you have and that make you feel good, and create the final dish with your perseverance. The result might not be total happiness, but something good is bound to come out of it.