Deaf geographies, and other worlds.
I have a habit of helping people unnecessarily. It’s something I learned from my dad. He has a sixth sense for offering help when it is most unhelpful.
Sometimes this can be comical; it’s a bit of a running joke in our family that any time I’m at my parents and I open the fridge to look for a beer/cheese/snack… I hear the pad of his slippers… and then from behind me there’s a gentle “what are you looking for?”… Once I pushed this to see how far he would actually go. “Cheese” I replied… “Well…” he said… “we have Cheddar, and Edam, and Brie”… actually reaching over my shoulder to point out the different cheeses all of 6 inches from my nose.
Sometimes it can be useful; if I ever need to distract him (so that, for example, a grandchild can ‘surprise’ him) , all I need to do is ask him where something is and he’s off, like those shop assistants who take you to where you’ve already looked… look again… and then tell you that they don’t appear to have any of whatever it was you wanted.
Sometimes it’s downright painful. Like the time that he offered to help me carry a washing machine up the stairs, when he was patently unable to lift his half.
This morning I noticed an article from the BBC which suggests that helping people too much can – ultimately – kill them by making their lives too easy. In it, it reports that “Research on mice has shown that those who live in a challenging environment live nearly 30% longer than those who in a secure but boring environment.”
Yesterday, I noticed that a Deaf friend’s Facebook comment wondered if “any deaf person can get through life without having to be on a permanent collision course and considering legal action”.
Now, my friend is not a mouse… and the stress of life is probably not going to help her live longer, but it might be some consolation to know that she’s living a life that pushes the boundaries of what she wants to do beyond those commonly enjoyed by other Deaf people…
Or, it might just be depressing, because then you realise how much Deaf people have been ‘helped to death’ by systems in place to ‘look after them’…