The Quotable Corbet

Humorous, poignant, life-affirming, often complex but always insightful–in his decade at the helm of   New Mobility, Barry Corbet’s words leaped off the page and took up residence in our minds and hearts, where they continue to stir emotions to this day. Following are some of the most memorable Corbetisms as chosen by our editorial staff:

“Real life doesn’t give a damn about the particulars of how you live it. It just keeps flowing and happening and creating and destroying–all the richness and terror, the beauty and power–and you get the whole ball of wax, with or without a disability.”

“Inclusion is inclusion, and it means everybody.”

“We should not be afraid to inspire–the world needs it badly, and we need the experience of giving it extravagantly.”

“Usually we have to see our perceived failings in fellow gimps we know and respect–and see that they’re evidence of anatomy, not amorality–before we can get over them in ourselves. First we distance the shame as theirs, not ours, then we see that there is no shame.”

“We may be fragmented as a community and self-interested as individuals, but we have unique reason to see that we’re not immune to the worst things that happen to others. We know we’re not islands unto ourselves.”

“Too soon we get old, too late we get smart.”

“Once we fully understand how universal is [the] fear of otherness–and that it truly is fear and not hate–then we can learn to touch people in the face of their anxieties. Quite suddenly, we are free to discover the kindness of strangers. Quite suddenly, strangers are free to discover us.”

“Disability is expensive. Expensive lifestyles are usually reserved for the rich. Disabled people, as a whole, are poor as dirt. How does anybody make sense of that?”

“Without our in-your-face advocates, we’d be nowhere. They’re the reason we have recognized rights. But putting our freedom to use doesn’t end when those battles are won; it begins. The next step is taking our rights and applying them to the way we live. That’s why we write about the arts, about sports, politics and housing. About nursing homes and the alternatives. About managing attendants, finding jobs, beating disincentives, working with the system and escaping poverty. And it’s why we write about people. What other people do with their freedom is a sure indicator of what I can do with mine. Information empowers.”

“As my life’s turning points go … Everest is an also-ran. It was spinal cord injury that turned me inside out and spat me out a different person. My life was no longer the road not taken but the road yanked out from under. … I still have trouble reconciling the life before with the life after.”

“Do not go gently. Fight the loss of every friend and lover. Call, e-mail, write. Be available, show up when you can. Take an old flame to lunch. Observe the occasions, nourish the memories, rekindle every romance. Relationships are the happy ending, the best reward of life. Relationships are love that lasts.”

“We don’t often choose our adventures, but does anyone? We like to think we do, but the best adventures befall us, not we them.”

“Adapting to disability is one of the great triumphs of human evolution.”

“Some of us have more reason to aspire than others–they’re dug in deeper or they have higher to fly. They’re the ones who become the sun.”

“Leaving school was a good decision for me. It led me to the mountain valley of my boyhood dreams, to the family that still holds me on course, to mountaineering expeditions around the world, to a disastrous sideline as an innkeeper, and to a long career in filmmaking. It led to a helicopter falling from the sky, and to work that was minimally impacted by the disability that followed.

“Reader, it led to you, and this is my favorite gig of all.”

 

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