Wednesday, November 26, 2008

(Morning) Twilight Stage

We had a robust family discussion one night on a walk about the correct definitions of twilight, dusk and sundown. There might have been a few other terms in there, I forget. (I’m adapting to the forgetting more gracefully and can even make jokes about it—most of the time.) In any event, we tried to differentiate each term, not very successfully, as we were watching a gorgeous sunset and trying to find the right term for each chunk where we could detect changes in the light. My favorite part was what I believed to be twilight, though Shea in her true-to-form self vociferously contested my application of that term. I like what I think of as twilight, with its mix of light and dusk and pretty colors. At least that’s my definition and why I chose that name for where things stand, though as Michael points out, my twilight is probably the one before dawn, not going into nightfall. I would have posted this sooner except I wrote this on my way out the door this morning and he was concerned that I was sending a gloomier message than intended by using “twilight” without explaining….

The cumulative effects of tortoise-dom, or slow hare-dom, whichever, are in full swing in this stage of my adventure. I am fully myself, just less often. While the summer was a twilight of its own, where nothing ever felt quite right and nothing got done (for which I beat myself up mercilessly), now I feel like my old self, just in short spurts and not as consistently as my old life. The epiphany of coming out of anesthesia and really feeling like “me” contrasted with the summer and early fall is not something I’ll ever forget. However, that I’m not my old self reliably or as often requires an adaptation that I’m still striving to master.

In some respects, it is freeing to say “no” more often. That’s something I’ve never really given myself permission to do, so exploring that realm has almost as many positives as negatives. The process of assessing my priorities to assign available energy is a good one I only wish I’d done while I was at full strength. It is dumb that it takes a full-scale intervention and “stop action” event to make that happen. We’re all usually so busy that we hear all the advice about prioritizing, and we nod our heads and say “Oh, yes, and I’ll do that another later.” I don’t have any real words of wisdom here, other than to pass along that I wish I had done it sooner.

On the other hand, it can be frustrating that being out in the world costs energy in ways that are hard to measure. It’s not possible to schedule a whole slew of back-to-back meetings, for example, which was a staple of my life for decades. That’s hard to get used to, the more so because of how unpredictable the energy levels can be. While it’s no longer mandatory to block regular times for full-scale naps because on many days quiet periods of rest at home can work to recharge, I just don’t know what to expect on any given day.

“Everybody” says that it can take one to two years to be fully back to normal and I’m prepared to take this at face value. My progress from even a few weeks ago is tangible, so I’m not discouraged, just trying to figure it out and get the balance right more often than not. Living through it, though, has its grey moments, even as it has so many moments to savor, celebrate and for which to give thanks. I’m calling Part Five the Twilight Stage.

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