I find it curious that individuals with profound physical or mental disabilities, supposedly only able to communicate falteringly, if at all, actually communicate with a graceful “fluency of the heart” many healthy individuals lack. What’s going on here?
Individuals not physically or mentally disabled have a host of communication options. The face is the most expressive feature of the body, able to rapidly convey a stunning array of profound and subtle emotions. As a portrait photographer, I witness this daily. Indeed, adept photographers with the most sophisticated cameras are challenged to capture and reflect this rich visual tapestry of emotion. Verbally, healthy individuals can convey volumes with but a vocal nuance. This without even speaking a word! In addition, they have rich, sophisticated language to draw upon. Musicians and poets immerse us in beauty. I have but scratched the surface.
So at first glace many ill and disabled individuals have the communication deck stacked against them. They possess no rich array of communication options. Rather, their options are restricted, sometimes drastically. Yet in some mysterious way they frequently communicate with a graceful eloquence other individuals often lack. Time and again, against all odds, these individuals somehow are able to reach out and profoundly touch other’s hearts. I’ve personally experienced this in my work as a photographer. No doubt you’ve met disabled individuals whose communication touches your heart in ways others would be envious of. How do they do it? What’s their secret?
I believe these disabled individuals have learned the universal language, the master language - a means of communication that is actually prior to all conventional language. It’s the language of the heart.
Paradoxically, individuals who have been denied the conventional array of communication options have been thrown back to the ultimate source of communication, the heart. The heart is both the silent source and powerful instigator of all profound communication. You’ve felt it. At some point, often I hope, you’ve been touched simply by another’s presence. Not by what they said, however eloquent. Not by how visually expressive they were. Rather, when in their presence, you were touched, heart to heart. The Institute of HeartMath has masterfully articulated the scientific basis of this rich heart communication. Many disabled and ill individuals are masters of this heart to heart communication.
I write this not as a scientist, a linguist, a physical therapist, a neurologist nor one schooled in the socially or politically correct ways of expressing these issues. I simply write this as a person who has been fortunate to frequently experience this “heart communication” first hand.
A heartfelt thank you to all the participants! You inspire me. You touch me.
Project conception & photography: John Zeuli
Post production: Virginia Zeuli
Website treatment: Jason Roberts; NetFusion Studios
Video treatment: Patricia Buskirk; AB Productions, Inc.