A new year often brings a period of renewal and reflection. As we look at our lives, we might decide to implement some positive changes in an effort to live a more authentic existence. Conversely, we may decide something we’ve always done no longer serves us well and we need to let it go. In this issue several authors share ways they’re mastering the art of living with disability as an essential element of a creatively crafted life.
In our featured essay, “The Tree That Reminds Me,” author Rhonda Zimlich runs, and with each stride she pushes her body, clears her mind, and denies the disease within. Observing the surroundings along her route, she is drawn to an intriguing maple tree. Evidence of a lightning strike is undeniable. Its protective bark stripped away, a gouge—an open wound—is visible along the trunk. Similarly, disease has ravaged the bark of her nerves, stripping away the myelin, leaving her scarred and exposed, just like the tree. This kinship with the deciduous maple causes her to reflect on her own existence.
Kelsie Bennett ingeniously weaves a loophole in reality by bringing present-day Joan into scenarios of her past in “The Dissection of Joan Giles.” It’s the introspective story of an art student who, after years of having her body scanned, copied, and scrutinized, decides to turn those pieces and parts into a collage. She transforms her life and disability into art, determined to put herself back into the picture, and then something unexpected occurs.
In “Another Country,” Connie Harold describes how she temporarily lost the ability to see when she was a preteen. She blinked, rubbed her eyes, and desperately tried to bring the world back into focus. It was the first time, one of many, she would struggle to see as well as be seen, heard, understood. She wasn’t sure if she was going blind or not, but she was sure of one thing, she was going to be an artist and for that, vision was essential.
Dave Wisnewski lost most of his vision when he was in his thirties due to diabetic retinopathy, yet decided to pursue a degree in art. College instructors were intrigued by the blind art student and helped him realize he could still create amazing work, in a different way. His larger-than-life art is featured in this issue.
It has been said that life is like art. Whether art is an integral part of the work, or not, many of the stories, essays, and poems shared in this issue are fueled by a desire to create a life that allows us to truly be seen by others. Let’s begin the new year by taking a moment to slow down and savor the beauty of the season and the beauty that can be found in the differences that make us who we are. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, curl up with a blanket and enjoy the work we have selected for issue 88. We hope you’ll find something that resonates.