(Banging against boundaries)
Being confronted with my probably permanent limits.
Others understandably not knowing my limits. Why should they.
As I witness the deterioration of the brain of a 90 year old I know and see how she is cared for; as I contemplate all she needs, all she’s come to represent, I realize I am a similar liability. Loved … but.
Being a disappointment weighs heavily. And there’s no self-pitying in that reality. I should be this or I should be that, if only by my own reckoning. A reckoning that makes me cursed by knowing what I’m not.
Go and pick up a wheelchair. Being driven. I rarely drive now. Bad traffic. Predicted traffic. Traffic beyond the volume I can cope with.
It’s me. Others have to cope with bad traffic.
Others have to cope with me breaking apart. It’s a lot to ask.
It’s not the first time.
So, why do it again? Insanity is repeating a mistake time and time again.
Just how insane do people – justifiably – think I am? Or how stupidly optimistic are they, as they suffer their honest mistakes? And what honest mistakes am I making?
A wheelchair for a 90 year old, a widow after decades of marriage. A widow in a care home. A wheelchair to make trips out a little easier.
Her brain is deteriorating. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t want. Perhaps we should be trying to give her more human contact, physical contact than she gets now. A hug. A stroke on the arm. Touch. Reassurance communicated without words. But what do I know.
There are no strict parallels. Not strict parallels. But we – she and I – share the role we play in others’ lives. We’re both problems. We’re both a drain, a curb.
What’s the best thing for her? A new future beyond the very short term can only be nearly or actually impossible for her to grasp for.
And what’s best for me to grasp for?
I don’t know. Some of the good bits of how I was (whatever they were) remain but are diminished. Dwarfed by the new bad bits? Out-weighed?
And some of how I was has gone. Gone for good? Too damaged? Or locked away? For now? Forever? How can I tell.
And as for what of me that I’m left with now – does the bad outweigh the good? And who is to judge? Others? But they don’t have to live with me all day and every day. Me? But how clearly can I think?
And anyway, even asking that question is to assume some kind of objective measure of clarity that’s there – wherever ‘there’ is – to be applied. Perhaps that’s so much gibberish.
After all, people say you should measure happiness by how you feel ‘in yourself’; that it’s OK to be your own judge of how you feel. So, surely you can apply that to every other aspect of your life – not just happiness. It’s in your own eyes. In your own brain. In your own judgement. That’s what counts.
So that leaves me as the judge. Me deciding what to grasp for. Or, rather, me deciding whether the potential remaining in what’s left is worthwhile grasping for. Me deciding whether to grasp for anything at all.
Arguably … the views of others – whether learned from other people directly or learned through religious, cultural or social contexts – need to be actively questioned and assessed personally if they are to prove robust over time.
And the willingness or otherwise of the view-imparters to be questioned is the all-important measure of the robustness or otherwise of both the view and the imparter. And that’s all true of your own views too.