A Poet's Story

THRIVEnet Story of the Month - October 2001

by Robert Hansel

Robert M. Hensel was born in Rota, Spain in 1969. Currently a resident of Oswego, NY, he is an international poet-writer. On October 1st of 2000, Robert was honored when the mayor of his home town declared a week for the disabled, "Beyond Limitations Week," in his name. Here is his story, followed by two of his poems:

Living With Spina Bifida

I grew up with a birth defect known as spina bifida, a disability that affects my sense of balance, causing me to walk with a limp. Not only does it affect the function of the legs, but it also has an impact on the kidneys, causing them to deteriorate.

The disability has had its ups and downs. As a young child, I can remember the way other children would look at me and stare because of the way that I walked. There were many times that my schoolmates would laugh at me and call me names simply because of their lack of understanding of why I was a little different, especially back in the mid 70s and early 80s. Children then were just unwilling to take the time to learn why one of their classmates might walk, speak or seem noticeably different from themselves.

Now that I am an adult, I have noticed that the stares and names have begun to fade, and judgments that once were negative have begun to turn toward acceptance. The signing of the ADA has played a great part in breaking down some of those barriers that, as a child, left me to fight a war that seemed to have no end.

Now I look beyond what I can't do and focus on what I CAN. I have learned that limitations open doors that have been closed, showing other ways to meet our needs. I have always looked at life as a challenge, grasping each obstacle with open arms.

There is nothing in this world that comes easy. I must stand tall and look forward, to be ever so ready for what still lies ahead. People often feel sorry for those who were born with some type of disability. But their compassion is misplaced. Yes, I may not be able to run as fast or perform certain tasks, but my disability gives me a better look at life and all that's around me. I want to be seen not as a disability but as a person who has, and will continue to, bloom.

I decided to become a advocate on behalf of disabled Americans, to fight for our rights that for so long have been ignored. I feel that it only takes one powerful voice to change the minds of many nations, and as long as I have a mouth to use and a mind to think I will continue to work to bring peace upon the disabled community. May the words that flow between the lines connect us to a world of peace.

To all of my Friends with disabilities, I leave you with a few words of encouragement in hopes that you too may find the courage needed to reach beyond your own Limitations.

Live life to the fullest of your ability. Focus on the things that are within your reach, and go after them. Grasp hold of your dreams and don't let go. Use your own experiences in life to help those that may be in need of encouragement.

Best Wishes,
Robert M. Hensel

Also, here are two of my poems.

"Peace of Mind"

Carry me out the ocean, where
my drifting thoughts flow free.
Guide them to a far distant land,
that only the mind can see.
There I shall paint a great portrait,
of what this world should be.
A place without senseless wars,
and human poverty.

"The Poet"

Words flow onto paper like rain, forming
giant rivers of unseen lands.
The very force guides us along a journey
that holds of great adventure.
We are the explorers of the literary world.
We must find the courage to write what
others are unable to, with the greatest of
A poet dreams. and then must portray his
visions upon the page that lies before him.
It is the beauty
of all things that inspires us
to communicate in such a way.
A man does not wake up one day, and
decide to become a poet.
It must live in the very blood that courses
through his veins.
He is the creator of a world, only he has
He is the actor and director, of all that
speaks out through his pen.
He is a man of all men, Visionary of all
What you haven't seen, he has.
What you can't say, he can.
For he is the poet.

© 2001, Robert M. Hensel

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