Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year, New Speeds Emerging

One of the long-running jokes in our family is about my limited repertoire. Various versions the joke center around the concept that I have only two speeds, On and Off. On goes full-blast and Off does nothing. Off used to be in use only intermittently during summer vacation, between Christmas and New Year’s and every now and again when sick. On was the rest of the time. Now, though, a whole new suite of speeds seems to be emerging. These are becoming known as Almost On, Barely On, and Sort-of On.

The last few days have been spent in Off. There are a few more days to enjoy it before picking up the chapter to be finished and the MBA syllabus to be refined and finished so the book order can be placed well before the late-March beginning of the class. That can all wait until the weekend or the beginning of the week.

Off is a nice setting, involving (almost) no work and little that is productive or constructive. In previous years, time like this would have been spent reading or doing puzzles or building a model. This year, it was spent in a West Wing film festival as reading, even on the Kindle, is still complicated sometimes, depending on the subject/author. The puzzle awaits Shea’s return and we didn’t choose a model this year. Kearney has been providing advice and consulting about knitting a new sweater, redoing one started many years ago. The body up to the underarms has been knit for at least ten years (maybe 15 or even more) but it’s in a style and shape that don’t fit this era’s lifestyle, so it needs to be unraveled (the worst part) and restarted. It’s a great yarn, no longer made of course, but there is plenty to take on the new version. Kearney is recommending knitting it from the neck down, which I’ve never done, so that should be fun

Meanwhile, the wisdom dispatched my way on grieving has got me facing the right direction. I’m not silly enough to think that a few days of thinking about it crosses that task off the list (though that would be swell), but at least it’s directly on the agenda now and not poking through without knowledge or invitation. The biggest struggle is the whole concept of relative hurt. I get the concept that events hurt me as they do. I haven’t ever really gotten why it’s suitable to spend time on them, in my privileged life with all the many blessings I have. There’s not a person in my family who has spent a day hungry, or homeless or chronically ill or seriously in want by any reasonable definition. I know, I know, this is kind of a puritan view and doesn’t leave much room for the loss, which isn’t, in fact, relative. At the same time, I can never escape the knowledge that many of the losses that are front and center right now only highlight the goodness of our lives. You do not grieve loss without having had something wonderful to lose. That our lives encompassed those wonderful things is to be celebrated and appreciated, not grieved, or worse, wallowed in. So what this comes down to is that I don’t approve of feeling sorry for myself (I do recognize the pejorative framing) when my life is one that many people would find filled with good fortune. Even my problems are luxuries: this brain tumor adventure has been characterized by great health care without a serious financial burden. I count my lucky stars to live this life. Still, the sadness needs to be acknowledged and welcomed. May it help bring insight as to the next steps to be able to find a way to give back and bring meaning to the space and resources I consume.

I don’t know where this adventure is leading. I do know that learning new speeds is one of the good problems to have and that there’s support and caring to help find the way. In the end, it’s always the people who matter. Thanks for being out there. I hope to be there for you, too.

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