Ellen Langer

I was once on a book tour and my guide realized we were late for a radio show. He asked if I minded to take a short cut through a parking garage. I didn’t. After entering the garage, he exclaimed, “PHEW, do you smell that?” Apparently it smelled from urine, but I didn’t smell anything.

The experience made me begin to reconsider our culture’s ideas about disability. When it comes to smell, I think the ratio of Ugh, did you smell that?” to “Ahh, did you smell that?” to may be something like 100 to 1. My smell “disability” certainly seems like it was an advantage. All disability is ability in some context. Every aspect of getting older is also an advantage in some contexts, if we only bothered to notice.