Six months and 28 blogs on, and I’m beginning to fret when it comes to penning my weekly monologue. I feel like the Old Testament prophet Jonah, who managed to cram 18 repetitions of the personal pronoun and its derivatives into a mere 5 verses*. (That’s a strike rate of better than one me-me, I-mine or my-my in every 7 words!) And this just moments before Jonah was famously swallowed by the whale. A pretty sure way to shut the whinger up; and very likely the point of that illustrative story.
Here’s an example: Last week I made a stellar discovery: something that has changed the topography of my world. Having made a trip to town with B3, I was weighing up the alternatives of charging home again the same way, or ringing for a wheel chair taxi. Glancing up from my inspection of B3’s battery meter, which is at the core of this decision, I happened to see a public bus pull into the kerb a short distance away. As they stop, these modern buses exhale deeply and with a sigh the whole front of the bus lowers itself towards the kerb for the convenience of its passengers. I rolled across for a closer inspection, and the driver happily demonstrated the ramp that hinges neatly up out of the floor and onto the curb. So began a terrific new chapter in the annals of my mobility! It’s brilliant! It’s a sheer delight to be at large once more after weeks of relative confinement. Every trip has strategic appeal: there are timetables to consider, routes to peruse and alternatives to weigh. Bussing has all the tactical challenge of sailing days in our youth, racing Manly Juniors on the hectic waters of Sydney Harbour – except that power doesn’t seem obliged to give way to battery. I can get to our church office on a Tuesday for a tenth of the cost of the wheelchair taxi. I can go just about anywhere I want and into every shopping centre or leafy park in the city. I feel like a teenager learning to drive (and don’t I sound like one?) And I feel convicted of that same legendary, narrow, adolescent self-absorption. My life has the feel of a cyclone, a storm spinning madly inwards, forcing me into an eye (or an I!) of idle egocentricity.
This is the nub: the further down the path of incapacity one travels, the more pre-occupied with self one becomes. It is unremitting and cruel. For example, my daily routine now consumes much of the capacity I once endeavoured to offer others. A shower is an hour long campaign, carefully executed in successive stages of plan, attack and recover. I hate the domestic drama that is unfolding before my eyes: as I take longer and longer to attend to my own requirements and contribute steadily less to my household, my Favourite Wife has to pick up ever more of the responsibility. She has gone back to work to earn our living, she does all the driving, all the shopping, all the cooking, and virtually all of everything else. Fortunately for us she happens to be extraordinary! We have a gorgeous nine year old daughter with Down syndrome who has always happily consumed every scrap of available energy and attention from both her parents; but more and more often I simply watch the taxing dramas play out. The storm is so unfair, so distorting, and so relentless.
If infirmity were not introverted enough; blogging my experience seems just to accentuate the dilemma. If I type one more me-me, I-mine or my-my; I feel like I might implode! Or should I look for a whale? If I keep writing, and I think I will, I hope that it will never become a cripple’s rant against an able bodied world. I write because of the clarity it brings to my view; I write because of the urgent need to be honest with myself and with the world; and because it’s so darned hard to talk about it all. I write because I thrive on the connection it brings with people near and far. I also dare to hope that the stories we tell will build each other’s lives.
When I read a book I nod off during long diatribes and theories, but I am galvanised by a personal account. Let someone speak of their own struggle or triumph in life and I’m all ears. I can’t get enough of that! And so I will hold my breath and blog away. Honesty, after all, sets us free: even from ourselves.