Measuring Loss

There I was, standing in the kitchen at 5 this morning, making coffee and preparing myself for the trek down the driveway to fetch the newspaper. I really dislike that piece of my predictable morning routine. I trudged along, thinking of a happy time thirty years ago when I took a break from the news business and was a fellow in Cambridge. Three mornings each week I would run ten miles along the Charles River. It was autumn. The crew team would be out in the early morning chill. I would try to keep pace with them. I grabbed the Times on this day and hobbled indoors, feeling a bit wistful and sorry for myself. Self-indulgence on parade. What is the matter with me?

I am on my feet. Tomorrow, I probably still will be able to stand up and move forward, however slowly. I go to see the doctor and walk by those in wheelchairs or on scooters, walkers or whatever. How can I play the victim? There are a few frames of reference available to us for bringing perspective to loss. Which we choose goes a long way to defining attitude.

We can drag out the memory of what we once were, the image of jogging that takes us nowhere. Aging, alone, diminishes us physically. Who among us has not changed? Or we can look around us, see suffering, and be thankful for what we continue to be. The choice is ours. It is not between Polydamas and Pollyanna. And I am no legendary Greek Olympian. Keep it real, I remind myself.

The attitude wars are not a new subject for us but one worth revisiting from time to time. Many with pronounced physical limitations live in our heads. Often it feels as if we have nothing but time, and we muse ourselves to death. The more we can feel and believe we do not have it so bad, the happier we can be.


7 Responses to Measuring Loss

  1. Mark September 13, 2015 at 8:26 pm #

    Life is a bull in a china shop, and we’re the china.

    But the way people treat each other in spite of that is pretty awful. I try to carry a tube of Krazy Glue with me wherever I go in the world.

  2. Mark September 13, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

    It’s my birthday in three days. It is also Mexican Independence Day, and here in Southern California that’s kind of a big thing. There’s usually a lot of celebration and music where I live, and trumpets. Lots of big, plastic trumpets. Lots of families, lots of food, lots of drinking and all kinds of celebrating. Usually for days afterward I will find any number of disposable items (and any number of bodily fluids) in the alley next to my car. It’s always a contiguous border of ragers. For me it’s bittersweet. I can’t get around very well anymore–my legs have become too unusable, to be concise. I mostly sit every day, and try to write when I’m not doing research or paying bills. But it really starts to hurt after a while; many people don’t understand that about sitting. I’m on short term disability right now to see if I can rehabilitate a little with some assisted physical therapy and rest. I’m not hoping so much as trying to change my path. I’m not so sure I’m hopeful, but I don’t want to give up. My birthday celebration, if any, will just be me… alone in my studio. Too much to describe here about the ins-and-outs of why. I could sit here and feel bad, feel pathetic. But I gave that up some time ago–it’s too draining, and got me too depressed and too close to desperate acts. I can’t get out to do anything on my birthday… but you can bet your butt I will definitely be opening my windows to let in the cacophony of others celebrations.

    At least I can celebrate something vicariously, as I still have my imagination. Thank goodness for small favors.

    • Richard M. Cohen September 14, 2015 at 11:54 am #

      Hold onto that imagination. It can carry you away.


  3. Ann September 14, 2015 at 9:13 am #

    Happy Birthday in two days:) I think your birthday celebration plan sounds wonderful. This is what makes us an example to the world. Maximizing the world for our enjoyment.
    Have a special day!

  4. Yvonne September 15, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    Welcome back! We missed having a discussion leader 🙁 Happy Born Day Mark. No matter what we’re facing we’re doing it while breathing. Since none of us know what it’s like to celebrate while not breathing this is a time to reflect on the next year and how to make the most of the gift of breathing if everything else ain’t working! Eat, drink and be merry:-)

  5. henriette September 16, 2015 at 3:11 am #

    I second that…..

  6. Diane October 7, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    Thank you for posting this. It takes more than guts, it takes wisdom. It also puts my own non-problems into perspective.