Maybe you will recognise this experience. Recently I was watching the telly; Russell Howard’s satirical look back on the week’s news. Although I’m a big fan, that night I was not really taking it in. Then something extraordinary happened. He started to interview a fellow comedian and suddenly I was giving the show my full attention. The guest’s name was Rosie Jones. I guessed that she must be famous but I had never seen her before. It turns out that she is a very well-known, multi-talented comedian, actor and writer.
Rosie told us about her cerebral palsy, caused at birth, when she had been unable to breathe for fifteen minutes. It had been, she explained, such a short time period in the context of her whole life but with a profound, disabling effect. As she talked she bubbled over with an infectious excitement and happiness. In spite of her slow speech her wit was razor sharp. But it was what she said at the end of the talk that resonated most with me. Russell Howard asked her if she had ever thought about what her able bodied version would have been like. Rosie replied that in some ways it would have been so much easier for her to be this other person. But crucially then went on to tell us that she didn’t think she would have had the incredible life she leads now; living her dream of making people laugh. Her firm belief is that everything happens for a reason. She was meant to be disabled and she’s proud of it.
So here’s what went through my mind. How much easier it would have been for her to feel that she had been dealt a bad hand. How natural it would have been for Rosie to question why she had be singled out in this way. Instead she has turned a perceived weakness into a huge positive. I simply gasped at her unbelievable inner strength. Here is someone so utterly determined to make the most of her life and her talents. To share the joy she feels through comedy. To make people laugh and get paid for it. She also finds the time to do charity gigs to raise money for cerebral palsy. And now I’m thinking, if only I could learn to wake up each morning with just half of her positive energy, how good would that be? What an inspiration!