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My Water

by: Courtney Simross

Recently I have received an overwhelming amount of responses to my blog. To all of you who have taken the time out of your day to personally contact me: Thank you so much. It is truly encouraging and inspiring to be complimented on the things I say through my blog. Just when I think that I ramble on too much, or discuss things that shouldn't be discussed, your messages remind me of why I do what I do. If I know that at least one person can read my blog and walk away knowing more about dwarfism than he or she did before, I've been successful.

But on that note, I have also received an overwhelming amount of homework these last few weeks. I have truly tried my best to blog when I can, but I haven't felt like I've been able to put the right amount of time and dedication into it, so I have not posted any of the many drafts I have begun. If you know me well, it's no secret that I am a perfectionist and my own worst critic, so I would never post something until I am satisfied.

So why am I posting now? Well, quite frankly, I'm also doing homework. I completed an assignment today for my english/writing class and upon review, decided I should share it with you all.

One of the advantages of living with dwarfism is having a unique perspective on the world. No matter the assignment, I can usually always tweak my answer to somehow relate to my dwarfism, living with dwarfism, being a dwarf-- you get the point. Are my teachers and professors probably bored out of their mind with me always talking about it? Probably. But I don't care. No one else in my classes have ever been able to talk about dwarfism, so I will keep on keepin' on.

Monday in class we read a commencement address by David Foster Wallace that he gave at the 2005 Kenyon Graduation. In his speech he referenced a parable of two young fish.

"There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys. How's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?' ...... The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness-- awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: 'This is water. This is water.'" 

Our assignment was write a one-page response to the question: "What is YOUR water?" So naturally, I  asked myself, "Courtney, how does this relate to your dwarfism?" I mean, not to take advantage of my condition, but seriously-- it's so easy to talk about! So why not?

As funny as it may seem, I often have to remind myself that I am a dwarf; that I look different. Being a little person is the only thing I have ever known. It is normal to me. It will never change, even if I don't think about it.

Here's what I will turn in to my professor tomorrow in class:

           In the words of David Foster Wallace, “The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.” Like water to a fish, things exist in our everyday lives that should be evident, yet are difficult to explain. These things have a purpose, even though that purpose may be unclear to us. We can find ourselves oblivious to their presence, but should these elements suddenly disappear from our lives, we would be left forever changed. So I find myself asking: “What is my water? What has such a big impact on life as I know it, that sometimes I forget it is even there?”  

            For 19 years, I have lived with dwarfism. I know no difference. However, no matter how comfortable I am with my condition, there will always be people who are not. Sometimes I am caught off guard when receiving stares in the grocery store or find myself at the receiving end of a rude joke. I often want to shout out, “What the hell is so wrong about me?” These are the moments when I have to take a step back and remember that my obvious and important reality is not always so easy for everyone to comprehend; I may be the first and last dwarf that someone will ever see.   

            Water never comes and goes in a fish’s life. It is a constant, so therefore hardly recognizable. I was born with my dwarfism and I will die with my dwarfism. It is the only reality I know, and therefore sometimes difficult for me to notice—at least until someone points it out, that is.