We were walking back to the apartment just after lunch, the time when many people at the therapy centre were getting ready to go home for the weekend. There is one young person who has the coolest car I have ever seen. It’s black, it’s snazzy, it’s really shiny, it looks like a perfect drive for the no-speed-limit German autobahn, and it has a build-in robot that opens the door of the boot, reaches out to pick up the wheelchair standing beside the car where it was left by the driver, and softly deposits it into the boot, before closing it again. It’s almost unreal. And the best thing: just looking at the car, you wouldn’t have a clue of its sophistication – something the driver pointed out was really important. It was just a ‘normal’ car, an eye-turner only because it looked really really cool.
But it’s not. Unreal.
It has given back to this young person their independence to go out to visit friends, go swimming, or horse-riding or whatever. Despite a spinal injury that confines them to a (also pretty snazzy) wheelchair. It has given this young person independence from their family, carers and helpers. It’s, of course, not just the robot that makes this car so different, it’s also the way it can be driven: with a second ring behind the steering wheel instead of the usual accelerator pedal and a stick beside the steering wheel instead of the pedal-operated brakes. And some other gadgets, I’m sure we didn’t see or paid attention to because we were in such awe!
This is all truly impressive stuff. Demonstrating that there are no limits to what can be done by clever engineers who understand their clients needs.
I came across this really incredible live version of Learning to Fly by Tom Petty (with Stevie Nicks as backing singer!!) and a fantastic interaction with the audience. While Tom Petty once explained that he got the idea to the song from listening to a pilot saying that flying was really not that difficult, but coming down was — in my mind, the song turned into something slightly more transcendental, for lack of a better word.
It’s, at least in my mind, about life and its limits and the determination not to let that interfere with our aspirations and dreams.
I am learning to fly. But I ain’t got wings.
How cool is that!