Society's true teachers

Lessons from the most important teachers in society


I hope the holiday season is restful, healthy and prosperous for you and that you’re looking forward to what the New Year brings to you and your family. To all readers of this blog, individually and collectively, we truly have so much to be thankful for.


In the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on an important part of my life that has taught me valuable lessons I wanted to share with you. I have always gone the “extra mile” for kids and adults that are different or needing more compassion and understanding.


My father is currently is on oxygen and confined to his house. It’s so difficult to see such a proud man in this “condition” in the twilight of his life. As many know, I lost my second daughter at birth. My oldest brother passed away a few years ago from a “curable” cancer. On one of the Love Has No Color reservation trips giving out the nearly 16,500 gifts for Christmas on the Reservation, I noticed a girl in a wheelchair, and many kids with obvious delays of mental, physical and intellectual development. Our TNR members have children with issues ranging from autism, developmental delay and back again. Specialness is a part of the web of our society, not separate and distinct.


Our differences serve as reference points for people who care and want to help others in need. Whenever I see a person who has obvious or not so obvious challenges, it gives me an opportunity to focus, not on their appearance or the illness classification, but to look deeper at their essence.


Being different signals to the world that you have something important to share


Wherever and whenever I meet someone different, there is a visceral feeling of how close we are all connected. On a recent Head to Head visit, we had to stop for a special needs van picking up a mentally challenged student. When I explained to this young DC that this kid’s only hope is you…there was a huge disconnect. It “wasn’t his responsibility” in his mind–he hadn’t gotten that from his Chiropractic College. It was a case for a “real” doctor. Maybe he wanted to give the kid Krill oils or some type of fish oils or maybe a gluten free diet, or change the pH of his enteric system. Now to his defense, he is brand new in our program. Something can be so obvious to some, while totally invisible to others.


Have you ever seen a ‘special’ or ‘different’ kid with their family?


Their brothers and sisters treat them as family members with no built in bias, judgment or sympathy. They just are. They don’t get special treatment; they are a part of the “gang”. They have so much to teach us. As parents, your relationship with a special, extraordinary or different child is well…different. It’s deeper and has more lows, as well as highs, valleys, as well as some pretty amazing peaks. I’ve shared some of my observations and lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) to help get your New Year on the right track.


Live in the present moment


When you see an extra-ordinary kid, they are just like every other kid was before they started learning to spend most of their time in the past or the future–the way we do as adults and teach anyone who will listen to do the same. When you have interactions with special kids, they aren’t wondering when it would be over and what would be the next thing they had to focus their attention on. They are firmly in present time consciousness. That’s where they live: the present moment. I’m reminded of our trips to the reservations. There are so many kids in dire need of love, understanding and connection. Many of our members had a terrible time of”disconnecting” from their offices, homes, children, etc. Their self-absorption prevented them from being in the present moment.COTR Dr Kevin and Kids 4One of the most important things I’ve learned is that when I’m on the reservation, I have to let go of my other concerns, worries, and fears and just be there. I can’t be in two places at once, regardless of what the computer society tells you. I choose to be with the kids on the reservation. I’m not on my cell phone incessantly killing time and distracting me from my boredom. I’m not “imprisoning” other bored people by forcing them to look at my endless collection of pictures of the minutia on my cell phone. I really value being present time consciousness with the kids…and for that matter, anybody. You really get a glimpse of their world, their delights, their upsets, and the things that are important to them. I’ve realized how much I miss if I’m not in the present moment.  



Slow down and focus


Because kids (and adults) that are different do things more slowly, I have to listen and pay close attention to them. If I start speeding on ahead or reach for my cell phone, the connection between us gets lost. This is still a work in progress for me. Remember the “good old days” before we all got used to the idea that we should be multitasking at every moment? Well special people aren’t really good at multitasking. They do one thing at a time and more slowly and deliberately, but they do it with total focus.


Stop judging…no one is perfect, but we’re all unique


Special people have a rare openness and lack of judgment that challenges the societal view of “normal”–how our expectations and preconceptions sometimes blind us to what’s there in front of our faces. When I used to see a special person who looked different I would immediately also judge them as less capable, when in fact even though they may do things slower, they can offer others a glimpse of high-level, single minded purpose. But people who don’t know them may judge him or her as “less than,” rather than someone with special, unique qualities.


Isn’t this ironic? Aren’t all of us vulnerable to being judged as “less than” in some area? After all, as human beings we all have our imperfections. We want other people to be open to learning who we are, just as I want to be open to learning who they are.


I guess the main point I want to make is, maybe it’s time for us to let go of the ways that we view the world and other people that may actually be holding us back. Maybe if we can learn from our teachers how to be a little more “in the movement,” with more patience and openness, and recognize that we’re just like everyone else–yet unique in our own ways–we’ll find it easier to reconnect with the best parts of ourselves as human beings.


Happy holidays and have a purposeful, passionate and prosperous New Year.