Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Friday, June 18, 2010

Making Progress Sitting Down

Soooo. . . the good news is that my ankle isn't broken, though apparently we can now resolve the issue of whether or not there really was a fracture four years ago.  There was, and it left a small bone chip floating around at the site of that earlier injury, which is causing some of my current discomfort.  More good news is that I can continue to train for the triathlon which is now just over nine weeks away, with modifications subject to my healing process.  In the meantime, I have to keep icing, elevating, resting, and wearing the extremely sexy footwear shown here.  

Unfortunately, many of the things I feel some pressure to get done require standing and walking for significant periods of time.  Of course, there's always the strategy of relying more on family members to pick up some of the slack.  But they are already spending more time waiting on me for basic things while I am literally immobilized, and some of them are historically unlikely to carry their own weight, let alone mine, with respect to household chores--even in normal times.  

The floor of the room I am sleeping in to avoid the stairs is presently covered with hazards, as is the floor of the bathroom I am utilizing.  I have misplaced the cell phone I could use to call for assistance (after silencing it at meditation the other night), and can't get up to search for it.  I am beginning to lose my sense of humor about being hobbled and sidelined.  I would make a miserable handicapped person.

Two things come to mind as I reflect on this frustrating, but temporary situation.  One is Kurt Vonnegut's short story "Harrison Bergeron," from his collection Welcome to the Monkey House.  Wikipedia summarizes it this way:
In the story, social equality has been achieved by handicapping the more intelligent, athletic or beautiful members of society. For example, strength is handicapped by the requirement to carry weight, beauty by the requirement to wear a mask and so on. This is due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the United States Constitution. This process is central to the society, designed so that no one will feel inferior to anyone else. Handicapping is overseen by the United States Handicapper General, Diana Moon-Glampers.
Harrison Bergeron, the protagonist of the story, has exceptional intelligence, strength, and beauty, and thus has to bear enormous handicaps. These include headphones that play distracting noises, three hundred pounds of weight strapped to his body, eyeglasses designed to give him headaches, a rubber ball on his nose, black caps on his teeth, and shaven eyebrows. Despite these societal handicaps, he is able to invade a TV station, declare himself Emperor, strip himself of his handicaps, then dance with a ballerina whose handicaps he has also discarded. Both are shot dead by the brutal and relentless Handicapper General, who demonstrates the hypocrisy of such equality in the first place. The story is framed by an additional perspective from Bergeron's parents, who are watching the incident on TV, but because of his father's handicaps, and his mother's average intelligence, they cannot concentrate enough to remember it. 
While I don't necessarily see myself as superior to others, I can't deny that I am privileged in many ways.  Maybe it's only fair that I be slowed down from time to time in order to learn to appreciate my advantages, and to gain compassion for some of the difficulties others must work with all the time.  

The other thought comes from the book I am currently reading, Little Heathens:  Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, by Mildred Armstrong Kalish.  Kalish gives such a warm-hearted account of her family's survival tactics that the reader is hard put to locate the hardship in her experience.  In his blurb for the book's back cover, Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall, says:
Little Heathens is an enchanting but thoroughly unsentimental look at rural life in the Great Depression.  In clear, clean prose we are offered the grit, struggle, and also the joy of hard work on a farm.  I cherish this book for its quite naked honesty and quiet lyricism about a time which makes our current problems nearly childish. . . .
Maybe the legend of my fall could be a smidge less whiney.

For the time being, I am going to work at feeling a little less sorry for myself, and at figuring out how to move forward from my seat on the couch.  I don't have to experience this as procrastinating.  Rather, my body's momentary condition has taken me off some hooks, for now.  But not all.

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