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A Sensual Experience By Jennifer Burgmann nee Thoms

Most of us, as a result of our injuries, are confined to our wheelchairs or to our beds.  It is easy to be angry with the universe for the injustice if it has imposed upon us.  We spend our lives navigating through a world designed for able-bodied people.  How irritating it is to arrive at a destination only to discover that there are steps to get in the building, or to arrive at a friend's place only to discover your wheelchair doesn't fit through their door.  We are unable to hike to the top of a mountain and gaze down at the beauty of the world below, or ride a roller coaster amid the bustle of a fair, or go skiing down a mountain during a crisp sunshiny winter day.

But there is something we do have that the able-bodied do not: an acute awareness of our senses.  These intimate points of experience (Taste, Smell, Sight, Hearing, Touch) can bring us joy, peace, happiness, exhilaration and escape.  Each morning at 6:30 AM I am hoisted, using the ceiling lift, into my power wheelchair, bundled up, and let outside so I can have a coffee and cigarette. The cup is warm against my palm, and the morning breeze is cool against my warm skin.  I take the first drag from my cigarette and feel myself relax a little.  The coffee is rich and sweet with the touch of hazelnut flavouring.  I smell the freshness of the morning air and sometimes just a hint of fresh cut grass.  The sunlight is casting its first rays across the dewy grass causing it to sparkle and shimmer as if sprinkled with Stardust.  The birds are beginning to wake up.  They are singing their many different songs in all their different pitches and cadences.  For at least 20 min, I have left my body behind and entered a place of wonder and peace, where there are no restrictions and limitations, where I can enjoy my life on my terms.

I invite you, if you haven't already, to explore this rich intimate world where the limited access to your body doesn't matter.  While learning to navigate the world with physical restrictions, you have honed the awareness of your senses (probably without you even knowing it).  Take moments out of your day to go to that place of escape, of wonder, of peace.  Go to the park and feel the sun on your face and listen to the children laugh and watch the dogs play.  Lay in your bed and burn incense and listen to the raindrops on your window and ask someone to rub cream into your hands and feet.  Sit in front of the fish tank and listen to the filter drone and hear the air bubbles burble and watch the fish float by peacefully.  Enjoy the still points, savor them and create your own life, a life filled with enjoyment, despite the physical lashings you've endured.