In the March 2000 issue of NEW MOBILITY, Paul Kahn, inspired by his famous subject in his profile/interview, “An Encounter with Stephen Hawking,” wrote about himself: “I feel that the task of my life is to make something positive out of my difference, rather than deny it. I must live more intensely. I must speak more truthfully. I must not waste time.”
When Paul died on New Year’s Day, 2010, I felt like I had lost a colleague and good friend — even though we never actually met. He was a writer, editor, critic, psychological counselor, disability rights advocate, poet and playwright. He was also an NM freelancer with a gift for probing deeply, an excellent essayist, someone I could depend on to engage our readers intellectually. Yet I never shared a meal or a drink with him, never sat next to him and enjoyed watching one of his plays.
I knew Paul through his writing, as I know many freelance writers whose dedication to their craft is indispensible to this magazine. In a piece he wrote in Reflections from a Different Journey, edited by Stan Klein and John Kemp (2004), Paul wrote about discovering his artistic bent as a child born with myotubular myopathy: “Drawing, painting and sculpting gave me a sense of independence and competence because I could do them well and by myself. They also increased my sense of belonging. Through my artwork, I could communicate my feelings and, therefore, felt less alone. The admiration and praise I received from my parents and others made me more confident and outgoing. Sitting at our kitchen table with my paints