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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Rumors Of My Demise...

... are much exaggerated.

One of my brothers called me today to find out if I was all right, since I hadn't posted in a few days. The truth is, I've been in a frenzy of house-ish winterizing work, combined with regular stuff, and I haven't had time to post. Over the last few days I have discovered the difference between a middle-aged body and a young one, and the difference is PAIN. It rained most of last week so the outside stuff is really behind schedule.

On Monday I improvised a roofsweeping gizmo (leaves and roof trash were stuck in a few places on the roof, and if you don't clean them off, the water stands and rots the wood) from a telescoping pruning thingie, causing the Chief to state that I was a tomboy. It worked very well; I was able to sweep off the roof from the ground and a ladder instead of having to climb around on the roof as I did this spring. However, it turns out that swinging a twenty foot pole with your arm extended for an hour does funny things to 47 year-old shoulder sockets.... I am not destined to be a ninja. The truth is, my right shoulder hurt so badly for a few hours that I really couldn't even type, and the left one wasn't much better.

Today I spent about four hours raking (because my brother who feared I was dead borrowed the leaf blower and has not returned it). I still have another few days on that, and then there is some more drainage stuff that has to be done before the ground freezes, which requires a pickaxe, shovel (I had broken the shovel, and just got a new one this weekend) and wheelbarrow. The Chief has been helping me a lot, but there are certain jobs I don't want him to do. The Chief bought a car on eBay which is located in Florida and left yesterday to retrieve it, so I have sole responsibility for canine care, and those dogs need a lot of exercise. So I am definitely not dead or dying, although I'm fixing to crawl whimpering into bed very soon. I walked the dogs this evening until they felt comatose in order to ensure a good night's sleep. Two dramatically immobile dog carcasses are snoring loudly as I type this.

On the brighter side, the mole is no longer in the attic, I really enjoy being outside, and it is so nice to be able to do these things. Only someone else who had been paralyzed and blind could really understand why all of this makes me want to sit down and cry tears of joy or shoot off fireworks. If I had the literary gifts of a Shakespeare I couldn't adequately express my feelings in words. This pain is a righteous, normal pain, pain generated from exertion that vanishes with a night's sleep, and not the ragged, jaggedy pain caused by muscles contracting uncontrollably due to damaged nerves, or the pain I endured in those horrible, horrible years when I slowly ripped my joints up internally in order to be able to regain mobility. I have climbed Mount Everest, mostly an inch at a time, and I am now starting a controlled descent.

I probably will get the Social Security/Medicare post up tomorrow.

I realize that people are very worried about economics, but my life has taught me that the worse the problem, the greater the need to meet it head on and with your eyes wide open, and the greater the rewards for doing so. It's natural for human beings to want to avoid pain, but there are certain types of discomfort that just have to be taken on honestly if you want to be an adult and have a reasonably successful at life (which does not equate to being rich). Failure to stare your fears down leads to irrationality, as the Shrink writes.

Maybe the next few years will be rough, but if they don't kill you or me, in the end, we will probably enjoy life more later because of them, and be the wiser for having endured them. We'll have more to give others, and we'll be reminded of why it is so important to take care of other people. And those of us who are older have the opportunity to help younger people cope with and understand this time without undue fear, as well as help others through it.

Michael Adams has written several very eloquent comments here about his trials and tribulations, and I think he is an excellent example of survival with class. Melissa Clouthier lost one baby and has a child with substantial autism, and she is another person who has surmounted adversity. Viola started life in an orphanage, and has survived emotional deprivation to become a truly lovely and loving person. The Anchoress survived a broken family and sexual abuse as a child to become a wonderful mother and wise person (and she needs prayers for her husband, who is showing signs of heart trouble). Tom Stone comments here sometimes, and he, like me, is a second-lifer in the real world. Tanta of Calculated Risk was diagnosed with a very bad cancer, given a 20% chance of survival, and has endured treatment regimens that have literally taken her to the point of death, and she spends her time not whining but educating. It's true that we're all gonna die, but that doesn't mean that we have to lead bitter and useless lives. Life isn't a choice between success and failure - it's a spectrum. Success is playing the cards you are dealt reasonably well, rather than achieving riches, fame or fortune.

People endure, people manage, people figure out how to make things work. Difficulty is not a synonym for doom. I don't write this stuff because I'm a pessimist. I write this stuff because I am a pragmatic optimist. First you figure out the problem, and then you can address it. Some problems are huge, and in that case, you figure out how to nibble away at them to slowly cut them down to size. Pretending problems don't exist or aren't serious just makes them worse!

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