Is there a word for the fourth- or fifth-ranking dog in a pack? We have a pack of two and our under-dog, Sophie, seems to rate about fourth or fifth in the group. Last night, as she was making odd noises in the night, I roused myself to check on her, worried maybe she was having another seizure. To our relief, she wasn’t, just snoring more strangely than usual. It did cause me to reflect thankfully on her relative absence of seizures of late; we changed her diet to very low-allergy food and never give her table scraps any more, both of which seem to have helped her. Of course, it’s hard to explain to a dog why the top dog gets table scraps as we clear the table and she does not. It would be nice to be able to draw the connection between her in-the-moment deprivation and her improved health. While experience with depriving children of things they want in the moment that aren’t good for them assures me she wouldn't like it any better, at least there would be a rational reason for her treatment beyond that she’s the doormat of the family.
Reflecting on things to be thankful for their absence caused me to do a quick inventory of all that I’m thankful for, as we approach two and a half years since my craniotomy adventure. Through a combination of gradual adjustment, improvement and changed expectations, life is pretty good. I still cannot read the comics (ever) or fiction (most of the time), I still tightly ration my energy, and I still work on regaining full use of my right shoulder and arm. And, I still can do most of the work I want to do, I can still travel and life is pretty good.
Through a combination of being formally retired and energy-rationing, we’ve hit a pattern to daily life that feels nicely balanced. I never was a morning person, and now I have the freedom to begin the days as slowly as feels right, without any guilt or sense that there are things I “should” be doing. I just don’t schedule stuff in the mornings. Similarly, I don’t schedule Mondays (now), reserving them for book work. The unstructured time of no-place-to-be brings a quality of life I never could have anticipated, and I luxuriate in it. Being formally retired and working essentially on contract has released me from most of the “should” rules I carried in my head all those years.
In a special bonus, last week’s storm brought almost a full week of found time, as two trips cancelled, and much here was shut down for a day or two. I used the time to bear down on the most recent restructuring of the book manuscript, which I’ve sent to my editor and am awaiting her verdict. I have been bracing for the worst and hoping for the best, and other than that, am trying to think about other things. It seems entirely possible to me that it will turn out that one of the things I cannot do anymore is write in long form, as Michael thinks this version isn’t very good and doesn’t sound like me. I hope my editor sees something in it, though, as it’s a project I’d dearly like to see through.
Sending that in has me mostly caught up with the backlog of things that I’ve owed people, which is a truly wonderful feeling. I’ve been luxuriating in it ever since, and wondering (hoping) that maybe this is the balance point: enough to do that I’m engaged and active and at a pace that is pleasant, not stressful. This particular balance (ok, for all of five or six days now) feels wonderful and I’d like to maintain it. If possible. That’s my current goal.