When Disability is a Metaphor

He got his first drivers license at the usual age most teenagers get drivers licenses, passing the driving test on a car with a standard transmission. He learned how to type on an Underwood manual typewriter. He played the snare drum in the high school marching band. His first part-time job as a college freshman was at an indoor gun range and security company as a dispatcher. He didn’t wear clip-on ties, because they look dorky, so he created a better solution. He grew up and made his way through corporate America before the days of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He gives off the appearance being a Thalidomide Kid, but looks can be deceptive.

glass He doesn’t go around wringing his hands over what society ought to do, and that’s because his hands aren’t like yours or mine. He frankly uses words that the politically correct have dismissed as arcane – disabled and handicapped — not challenged or differently abled. Calling a spade a spade, he asks a very important question that many just don’t ask when it comes to living with what God gave him: “What is it that I don’t have to have help with?”  

Charlie Hall isn’t the average foreigner living in the expatriate haven San Miguel de Allende, where many foreigners concern themselves with retirement pleasures, living on Social Security, tourism, performing good works, or even gang membership. He owns and operates etched glass and candle-making factories in Mexico, serious businesses which hire disabled people, showing them that they, too, can navigate their way through life with productive employment.

At the age of 48, Charlie doesn’t quibble over whether his glass is half-full or half-empty, because it’s brimming over. And so, too, is his blog, To Dream to Touch, where he hashes out the trials of the ordinary businessman, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, New York subways, speeding tickets, and breaking the mold.


6 comments on “When Disability is a Metaphor

  1. charlie hall says:

    Wow! I’m really flattered by your blog today. My whole adventure with this blog has been one surprise after another. I started quickly after a conversation with a friend who mentioned that I had so many desires, dreams and ambitions… what was the fastest way that I could act on them? He suggested doing a blog. I posted my first entry the next morning. I started the blog, got a dog and opened two factories in less than eight months. When my life changes, it does so quickly.
    The blog has been been an amazing adventure for me. It has taken me back to a place that I always wanted to be… writing, helping and working with the issue of disability.
    I want to say thanks for taking time to write about my blog. I’m actually at a loss for words.


  2. Deb says:

    Bravo. You brought attention to Charlie, his blog and his work without apology. Unblinking, unvarnished, and direct in a way that we as family members won’t, can’t, don’t or really shouldn’t, because Charlie speaks for Charlie, very well I might add. Having not only the type of handicap that makes people commit a visual assessment before ever getting to know him, consider what a blog voice means to one who also has a speech impediment (can you believe that some still use the label “retard” as if Charlie’s deaf too and can’t hear THAT one?). But that has never stopped Charlie, and I will tell you because I just received his phone call, he is BEAMING that you blogged him. He is absolutely throwing his virtual hands in the air! And I must add that my-bro-in-law makes Mexico his home for the simple fact that Mexicans are less cruel and more compassionate than people as a whole in the US. Mexicans accept the hand (bad pun) which they are dealt, and they accept Charlie. But I’ll let Charlie continue to speak to that in his own blog, as only Charlie can.


  3. Interesting blog. I very much liked the quote Charlie relays in his video “No one can learn to be at home in his own heaven until he has learned to be at home in his own hell.”
    Who is the author of that quote?


  4. charlie hall says:

    The quote I mentioned in my video clip was written by Lewis F. Presnall in his book SEARCH FOR SERENITY.


  5. Barbara says:

    Well I met Charlie at a gathering about six months ago. He is so charming, (charismatic comes to mind) and straightforward. What a delight! It’s a tribute to Charlie and his family that his life is as rich as they have all made it to be………


  6. Bob Kraft says:

    Wonderful post jennifer, and what a terrific, uplifting blog Charlie has! Because my firm handles Social Security disability claims, we see more people with disabilities than the average lawyer sees. It gives us great respect for what they accomplish, and great appreciation for the gifts we have been given.
    Bob Kraft


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