03/27/2013 12:15 pm ET Updated May 27, 2013

The Bird and the Worm

I remember the day my perspective on my disability really changed.

I was 19-years-old, home for summer vacation after my first year of college. I had just arrived back at my parent's house from yet another disappointing doctor's appointment. Yet again, I had been told that, despite the fact that I was in so much pain that I couldn't walk the seven blocks from one end of campus to another without feeling like I was dislocating or spraining an ankle or knee, they couldn't find anything medically wrong with me and that there was nothing I could do. I had undergone blood tests, X-rays, and a brief exam, all of which were inconclusive. It didn't help that this was one of the worst doctors I had dealt with -- he talked to me like I was a child and like I didn't even know my own body. He had told me that nothing was broken, so I should be grateful. Since the only evidence he had to go off was my pain, he had no advice for me except to "keep on living life the best you can." I thought, "Does he think I'm not already giving it all I have? I came here because I can't live my life the best I can. I can hardly even walk!" I felt defeated and hopeless.

As I walked up the driveway and toward the front door after that disappointing appointment, I tried to regain some peace by watching a bird fly around. Normally, I would have smiled at the simple act of nature, but today I sneered sourly at the bird -- nothing could pull me out of a bad mood once I was mired in it. Then, I watched as the bird swooped down from a tree branch into the grassy front lawn. It cocked its head to the side for a moment, then lurched down and yanked a squirming worm out of the ground. Without waiting for any more protestation, it flew off.

I stood there bewildered for a moment. Sure, I watch as much Planet Earth as any other person, but I had never seen a vicious act of nature in person before. In that instant, I came to the realization that I didn't really have it that bad. Sure, I was limping home and could barely walk and yeah, my future looked bleak and painful, but if nothing else, I knew that I would never have to live my life in constant fear of being pulled out of my house and eaten alive. I took comfort in the fact that I'm at the top of the food chain.

I recognize that it sounds a bit silly when I put it that way, but witnessing such a natural part of life to which many of us suburbanites and city-dwellers are rarely privy really solidified the idea that I'm lucky for what I do have.