The Outside is Not the Inside


Recently I was at Ability 360 gym with my son Kyle. He walks the track at this amazing place several times a week. This gym is specifically designed for individuals with physical and developmental challenges of all types. However, membership is open to everyone.

There is love and understanding oozing from the walls of this wonderful gym. Everyone seems to "get it". No weird stares found here. It is the norm to be different.

We see the man who cleans the gym regularly. He has a cheerful, friendly attitude and demeanor. He always says hello to Kyle. One time he told me how inspired he felt watching Kyle walk his laps. He confided to me that he has a visual impairment and has an idea of what it is like to live with challenges. 

Little by little, over time, we have talked more and more to each other. This past weekend we ended up in a deeper conversation than our previous chats. I mentioned I was a writer and told him of my newest book. He had questions about it and told me he could feel my passion around it. He then told me he was also a writer. He shared details about the humorous fiction he writes. We then moved on to other topics and I found out he is a drummer and has been playing at his church for 20 years as well as teaching drumming to children. He gave me some tips for helping Kyle with his drumming. 

Eventually, we got around to introducing ourselves by name. I will call him "M" for privacy sake. It was very special to connect with M. I had an insight about how little we really know about people. And how easy it is to make assumptions  based on what we see on the outside. We may base these assumptions on the way someone looks or their occupation. 

All of this occurred to me as I noticed that there were so many special things about M well beyond that he keeps the gym sparkling clean.

Note to self:  The outside is not the inside. Every person has a story. 

The next day I was searching online for singers who had autism. I stumbled upon Christopher Duffley. Christopher is also blind and was born at 26 weeks, weighing just over a pound. He was  addicted to cocaine like his mother. He was fortunate enough to be adopted as a baby by his aunt and uncle.

In this video, his dad escorted him out on to the stage. He looked slightly lost, maybe confused. The audience waited. Christopher soon began to sing in a way that immediately captivated the hearts of the audience, including myself. Wow!  

I went on to listen to more of Christopher's songs. He has continued to develop his singing and stage presence. As a teen, he has formed strong opinions and has visibly blossomed. There are several deeply moving speeches and interviews. His website, including podcasts, is called Mission Possible. 

If you just looked on the outside, you would underestimate Christopher and never have an inkling into his gifts.

Note to self:  The outside is not the inside. Every person has a story. 

As we peel away the layers, look beyond the outside package  and allow assumptions to melt, we begin to get a glimpse of what's really there. The inside can't be seen from the outside layers. We must go deeper. Going deeper might be a matter of taking time to connect with another human, as I experienced with M. Or it might be a matter of curiosity and willingness to look further,  as I experienced with Christopher Duffley.

For my son Kyle, his autism dominates the at first glance, outside picture.  Seeing the inside is usually more subtle. Many people never get a glimpse. Sometimes I miss it too. Until I see it again.

And then I remember. The outside is not the inside. 


gayle nobel