Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   

Entries in Disability (19)


My Toe is my Teacher

Part 1:  The Cure

Have you ever had an electric toe?  It's quite an experience, unlike any other pain.  You step on it funny and suddenly a shocking, excruciating pain shoots through the toe into the whole body and the brain contracts in the instant.  It goes away and you think, ok, that was that, and then it happens again.  After several repetitions you become like one of those freaked-out lab mice terrified of the next shock, seeming to have no control.   Except that then you notice that getting tense makes it happen more!

Like other life koans, this was impossible to grasp.  How could I possibly relax into something that made my body involuntarily seize up?

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Yes, but can you wipe your ass?

The first time I heard the question was shortly after I told my rheumatologist about the pain in my knees after tap-dancing for some length of time.  I recall that I was rehearsing for a little showcase.  I recall that I was proud.  I recall that he said: These are not normal knees…of course you are going to have inflammation if you tap-dance.  And a little while later he asked if I have trouble wiping myself.   It's important, obviously.   Tap dancing?   Not so much.

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The Straight Line (La Ligne Droite)

Updated on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:30PM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

So named for the challenge of running blind in a straight line, this film (at the Reel Abilities fest) features a young, rich, male runner, recently blinded, who encounters a not rich woman recently out of jail.   They are both hard and angry.  In a totally unbelievable moment, he recognizes her as kin.   He--actually his mother--hires the ex-con to guide him as he learns to run again.  Both are guarded, misunderstood, angry.  They fight, become vulnerable to each other, begin to trust.  The interfering mother interferes.   (Don't forget, when you make a movie about heroes, to include either a dead mother or an interfering mother.)   Love blossoms.  Against all odds, he wins the race.  

I braced against the emotional manipulation, my cynicism reinforced by the titles for the hearing impaired:  [soft inspirational music plays].   But gradually, my resistance weakened. 

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Crutch Master

Gales of laughter in the bus as he gets the first reaction--people on the street in some kind of shock and awe at a man using crutches to skateboard through the streets of New York.   He is known as the Crutch Master, and the mastery is evident and spectacular.   We are in the bus as the audience to his performance.  Hooked up to cameras, a DJ, and a major sound system, it feels like a combination of a hip dance party and a sting operation. "Wall Stall" Shannon Technique 2010 

So we are in the bus to watch the watchers.   We desperately want to see people on the street react to our Crutch Master.  We want their "Huh?"  We want to see them dislodged from their complacency.   We are hungry for it.    Many of us standing, craning necks from window to monitor display, aching to see a bystander get shook up.  Crutch Master is doing his best to deliver.  Here he is bumming a cigarette from a Wall Street Trader.  There he goes doing a jig for a tourist bus.  We see the people try to resist, turn their backs, shake their heads.  In the bus, we are cracking up, laughing forcefully at how people try to just keep going, how they can't recognize a true phenomenon, how they miss what is right before their eyes.  

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What is Dis?

What is Dis?*   Dis-ability.  A lack of adequate power, strength, or physical or mental ability.  Incapacity.   A physical or mental handicap.    So how does a cripple dance?   And do you want to see her try?   Don't stare.   No, wait.   Please do.     

Have you heard?  Disability is the new Black.   Disabled dancing bodies are everywhere, and people are talking about it.   Facebook-acclaimed New Mobility  features "Physically Integrated Dance," and the brand new International Journal of Screendance investigates the "Spectacle of Difference."   Dance Film and Dis Dance are coming of age together.   David Toole of DV8, photographed by Anthony Crickmay and John Cole 

What is Dis?  One of Dante's circles of hell, a walled city surrounded by a field of limbs of non-believers.   Do you dare visit?

Don't dis me.  "DisTHIS!"  proclaims Lawrence Carter Long, as he introduces his so-named film series featuring disability:  "No handkerchief necessary, no heroism required.  This is disability through a whole new lens."     

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It Doesn't Show

Updated on Friday, October 15, 2010 at 11:50AM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

Updated on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 4:50PM by Registered CommenterElena Taurke

It doesn't show, they started to say after the surgeries.   This should have been a cure for shame, and maybe it was, but it also produced a new problem.   A deep and integral aspect of my personhood became invisible and unknowable. Don't look. Juvenile arthritis is a peculiar and defining experience.  As a toddler, you get braces and casts instead of the exhilaration of walking.  As a kid, you get the special  role in the ballet recital.  Then, as your wrists are progressively deforming, Phys Ed with its impossible pushups and volleyball falls by the wayside.  You are left with the other rejected kids in Choir and then in Drama Club, where, to vanquish your depression, you pledge yourself a career and vengeance.  The twist (pardon the pun) in the story is that, along the way, you fall in love with dance--the one thing that everyone agrees is totally out of the question. 

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You Just Don't Get It

You just don't get it, said her eyes into my silence.  My beautiful dark-skinned friend from a South American country had just told me of her troubles getting a Visa, indicated how hard she worked in a restaurant to support her dancing.   I felt for her, so the distrust was painful.  Was it distrust, or was I projecting my own?   

Like most of my young dancer friends, she asks me nothing about my life, as if it is already established, not in question.  If they did ask, they might hear

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Jar Indignities

My favorite jam, utterly unavailable--making me utterly dependent.  


With all my might, I tried to open it.  Impossible!  So of course I had to drop everything I was doing and make make a video.


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Temporary Disability: Shifting Perspective.

Guest Column by Molly White.

I’m lying in the MRI machine, focusing on the slight changes in pitch of each loud pang trying to distract myself from the weight of the situation.  I send myself all the messages that this machine is not.  I tell myself that I am safe, happy and free from pain and I imagine I am surrounded in white light which is protecting me from any harmful magnetic effects of this 20 minute affront, and pretty soon I am relaxed and yes, relatively pain by TheeErin.

Pain free.  What a concept!  I have a love affair with pain that is both debilitating and self-fulfilling.  It has gone on so long now that when it comes back after a long two or three month absence I almost welcome it like an old and familiar lover.  Perhaps he knocks on my door and I don’t have the heart to turn him away, so reluctantly I let him stay taking up the space and eating my groceries.  With the pain there, I am forced to lie down to experience any relief, so I resign myself, I drop my projects and deadlines, hoping that in a week or so I will be back on my feet and pain will be gone.  But every time I worry that this time he might stay for good.

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