Monday, February 8, 2010

Perspective From Missteps

Yesterday, I reverted two or three evolutionary steps. It’s a long story, and a boring one, but what it boils down to is that I thrashed the system for a bit when confronted with a problem that was out of my control. The problem made me anxious, and even though the answer wasn’t likely to change through my conduct, the act of acting seemed important--at the time. Upon waking up this morning, I realized that all that action had simply been to make me feel better in the moment, though none of it was likely to have the slightest effect on the outcome. In thinking about it, I realized that is one happy change that has accompanied this medical adventure: I don’t do that as often as I used to do.

In part, this is because it has become essential to manage my energy all the time now that it is not an option to engage in self-gratifying bursts of activity without paying a price for it: doing so likely means foregoing something constructive. Recognizing that yesterday was an example of backsliding was actually a pleasant moment, because, among other things, it reminds me that I have more energy to allocate than a few months ago. Since this recovery is creeping along so slowly, and its progress is almost impossible to detect on a daily or even weekly basis, that was a nice realization.

The difference isn’t only driven by my new energy-management mandates; in part, it comes from just being older, wiser, and more mature. Most of the time. Time has brought a better ability to pick my battles (as it were) and to get more philosophical about them along the way. I’m better able to pick the things about which I can make a difference and to accept those where I cannot. I’m better at knowing what I control, and most importantly, what I do not. It was nice to stop and savor the progress, while acknowledging that yesterday’s whirl was mostly a waste of perfectly good time and energy.

As we approach another month’s cranioversary on Wednesday, things are coming together and are better than they have been in some time, with exceptions that most notably at this moment include the click in my scalp. I’ll do a status update on the 10th and in the meantime, am savoring yesterday’s example of wasted effort as a small victory. And resetting my resolve not to do stuff like that as much as possible. I like being in a place where mostly I don’t waste my energy or breath on choices other people control.

Today is all teaching, all the time. There have been some “issues” with the copying for my classes, and double-checking this morning for next week (I try to stay one week ahead), sure enough, more shortcomings. At least there’s time to fix it, and there will be no emergency… which brings me full circle to another pleasing example that maybe I’m actually maturing a little bit, over time. Growing up, the urgency of emergencies was often cultivated by the grownups around me, and it was a pattern of behavior I emulated for years, until realizing that I don’t actually like the way it feels nor does it make me feel important, necessary or useful. It just consumes energy I’d rather spend in other ways. Sometimes, just toting up the progress over time can be satisfying. Today is one of those days. I’m off to spend time with great students. Happy Monday.

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