Everyone’s talking about the newest thing in pop music, the exquisitely beautiful Viktoria Modesta. She is a below-the-knee amputee who dances with appendages like a lantern prosthetic that attracts a swarm of moths and a black ice pick on which seems to balance the entire world.
“Forget what you know about disability,” the video says to start.
When I watch her, I feel like I can do that.
Disability has a huge mental component — not necessarily how it affects your mind (because it certainly does), but the way it changes how you see yourself and how you interact with the world outside your rebellious, traitorous body. Scientists are currently studying how chronic pain and other seemingly eternal conditions change one’s personality. It makes us less adventurous, more cautious, afraid to move for fear we will further injure ourselves. Every movement cracks the snow globes in which we live.
Viktoria Modesta exploded out of the snow globe and has become this otherworldly symbol for life beyond disability. She chose to remove her leg at the age of 20 after 15 operations failed to improve her condition, which arose from doctors’ negligence at her birth. As she said, “[s]ince the voluntary amputation of my damaged leg I have been able to lead a fully functioning life not just creatively but also physically.” Modesta burst onto the music and modeling scene, and, like the moths swarming to her lantern leg, I have been drawn to her. This statuesque British beauty embraces what others consider her disability and uses it to her advantage.
I have become more cautious. I am less adventurous. The key to my own happiness and peace of mind is to use my disability to my advantage. To work within its strictures and emerge triumphant.
I used to be a writer. When I was a teenager and a college student, I’d spend night after night typing on my laptop. I had a literary agent at the age of 19; nothing has come from that (which certainly isn’t my agent’s fault, because she’s intensely successful). I’d journal each day during class, pretending to be taking notes. Since the second accident — and since becoming a lawyer — I haven’t written at all. I go to work each day, and when I get home I’m either exhausted, in a world of pain, and/or working on projects for other people. I can’t get past the medication fog to the place in my head that has all the stories.
That’s where I will start in order to forget what I know about disability.