I have always found the spoons metaphor describing disability to the novice as a little silly. I would describe it as this instead. Imagine you have to add several additional tasks to your already busy life. Imagine if these never go away. I do this when I try to remember which medications are for daytime and which are for night. I do this when I juggle doctor’s appointments and take into account delays on public transit as I cannot afford to own a car, nor feel much need for one.
I have accepted my fate a long time ago. Sure, it’s annoying when someone doesn’t get it, but those of my relative generation are stigma-busters. I would have always gravitated to arty circles full of glorified eccentrics who wore their nervous breakdowns on their sleeves. Mental illness might even be trendy there, if it wasn’t so deadly serious.
In many ways, I have learned coping strategies with rejection and hurt feelings. And suffering makes you gloriously sensitive and understanding towards those in pain, those who resemble you. One of the reasons I think FDR pushed through the New Deal is that a once-vain man of privilege had to learn to restructure his whole life and see things through the eyes of the less fortunate. He had to concede that he was powerless over a medical problem that took away his ability to walk upright. He knew their pain and anguish and though I would not canonize him as some have, he was the only politician my grandfather, himself born of poverty, had any kind word of which to address.
I’ve been reflecting on the outside world only to an extent. A much more simplistic understanding might be in order. My plate’s always pretty full and it never clears. I know a lot of people in life who have that affliction, and they don’t have to be sick to be there. I worry about the nurse who works three twelve hour shifts in a row, back to back to back. Someone has to do it.
So I, be it known I understand the desire by some to spell it out for those who have been previously hurtful. It’s tough to be misunderstood for any reason. But the closer I get to 40, the less it truly matters. I know myself and I’ve become a good judge of character. But if I said that any of this was easy, I’d be lying. You have to learn by doing, not by explaining.
And in the end, I love my partner though I take care to take the time to see beauty in human form, in a way that is pleasing to the eye but not challenging to the bonds of fidelity I’ve made. I am nothing but human, after all. Why not take in beauty in all its forms, not just the physical? Beauty interests me more than building the perfect analogy, the one that causes people to sagely nod their heads up and down.
These cannot be taught to anyone other than those who inhabit limitations. Is it so important to make plain my intentions that everyone understands me completely? I am large, as Whitman wrote, I contain multitudes. As do we all, friends, as do we all. I have missed my blank computer screen and send to you this transmission that has been percolating in my head. God has blessed me as he has blessed all of you with your own strengths. You may not live your life in scrubs, but you have a greater purpose out there, even if it is not the easiest to find at first.