Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Moving Slowly

The promised post on Shea still isn’t really done because it’s not quite right... it needs more marination, apparently. Being most effective in bursts means inevitably that there will be down times. Those always worry me, on the chance that it’s not a cyclical rest from on-all-the-time but a fundamental change in pattern, leading to a lifetime of sloth and torpor. It hasn't ever done that--yet--but the worry lurks in the back of my mind. Over the weekend, we had a great (though very short) trip to Madison to celebrate Shea’s graduation, brought Kearney back with us, went to the graduation itself, had a celebratory dinner with friends, saw Kearney off on her return journey and spent a day in alternating tiny bits of clutter-shoveling with doing nothing at all. The rainy grey day was perfect for cocooning, and it felt just right. This all sounds like a lot, and maybe it was, except that because it was all low-key and without any tension or pressure, it didn’t feel that way at the time. We all enjoyed the time together and the happy circumstances.

The graduation was as perplexing as these events usually are to me, and I’ve been to my share, as in all the years I was on the school board, I attended every single one. With 300-some graduates in the class, and taking place in the Assembly Hall, it’s not a personal event and no matter how much pomp and ritual is in place, it’s hard to make it a stately event, in part because of the setting and in part because of the mixed atmosphere. Even the university’s graduation there (with its ramped up attendance, pomp and ritual) is a little institutional in the Assembly Hall. In the years when I ushered Ph.D. candidates, I was really happy the floor was concrete, as it was cool in the otherwise warm-to-toasty gathering. The year Shea was born (in July), the May graduation was particularly hot, I recall. I can still feel the relief of the cool floor on my feet. That was also the year I started on the school board in November, so Shea’s graduation in many ways brackets the end of an era. At the high school graduation, there are families treating this as a major event, dressed to the max, screaming and tooting air horns to celebrate. Then there are families present mostly to mark an expected milestone, one on the way to the next stage of life. The event never really quite gels. And what speaker really has anything to say to high school graduates?

With the lovely weekend behind us, it’s an open question as to whether the motor will start again for the accumulated backlog of tasks and tidying needed, not to mention cleaning out my office at the law school. We’ve decided that most of the stuff needs to be culled, not just moved intact, so that’s this week’s main task. It’s a daunting one, as getting rid of things is hard for me: what if I need them next week? The paper and books that are candidates for recycling and/or shredding are items I haven’t touched in years, which reason would suggest would make it easier, not harder to shed them. But what if, after saving them for all these years, next year’s change in perspective and work renew the need for them? What about that, eh? Maybe next year will be the perfect year for finishing that project started ten years ago and never completed? Sorting and pitching usually generates its own momentum, once started, so I’m hopeful that just digging in will lead to a good outcome--though that again allows the back-of-the-mind question to surface: what if having done nothing yesterday, I’m stuck in sloth mode forever?

Today brings a return visit with Dr. Thoughtful, the physician who diagnosed the cortisol deficiency. It’s clear the experiment of artificially replacing the missing element is working: my energy levels are higher than they’ve been in months, and I was able to get through the over-scheduled period in good shape. That was a major victory and put “regular life” more within reach than it’s been since last summer. At the same time, we have some trepidation, because at least one possible outcome today is that we stop the prednisone to see if my systems start working again--which leaves the possibility of returning to the no-energy state that was so trying for months on end. Since there’s not much point in worrying about it, we’re trying to hang loose until we talk with him and see what’s next.

That seems to be today’s theme: wait and see. The weather is perfect for that, as it, too, seems to be in a wait-and-see-mode: maybe sunshine, maybe rain. We’ll know more this afternoon.

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