Sunday, January 29, 2017

Take It Easy

I know, I know, if life were (subjunctive mood) easy, everyone would do it.

And, yes, it's that time of year again (just barely), when I rail against New Year's resolutions, because they set unrealistic expectations. I do have some tangible goals for the year:

  • Finish my book proposal
  • Lose some weight
  • Speak Truth to Power (except that, unfortunately, our current seats of power hold little regard for objective truth)

My ethereal goal for the year follows the tenet of the above-mentioned Eagles song to not..."let the sound of [my] own wheels drive [me] crazy." I'm not specifically looking to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, but I'll take it if I'm dropped there.

I'll admit that this entry started as a brain fart onValentine's Day last year:  I mis-remembered the radio show phone call in Sleepless in Seattle where Sam (Tom Hanks) describes his marriage to his dead wife as being, "effortless". It's actually,"like magic".

The Valentine's Day connection was about how romantic comedies provide a disservice by suggesting that relationships are easy. And -- as I do with everything -- I extended that metaphor to life in general. I was thinking how much I miss life being effortless. Not that it ever was. But there were certainly times it was easier than now. Marriage-before-kids didn't require scheduled time to communicate. Body-before-stroke (or maybe just before middle age ) didn't spread (quit looking at my gut!). I didn't feel like an ogre looking at myself in the mirror or eyeing my fingernails (though the sight of me, unfortunately, doesn't seem to drive children away).

When looking at this list of Right-side stroke effects, I recognize myself in some of the descriptions, most of all in a lack of motivation. Not that I can entirely blame the stroke for that (blame is lame); in my hipster doofus twenties, the imaginary bumper sticker on my forehead read, "The closest I come to ambition is constant dissatisfaction." As a kid I was actually quite the perfectionist. Now I have no use (or belief) in perfection.

I searched "effort" in my blog and found this update my mother wrote early in my time at the rehab.
Culturally, we believe injury can be worked away. No pain, no gain. Work smarter, not harder. Or just work harder. Walk it off. Rub some dirt on it. But brain physiology and psychology don't work that way.

I've worked hard not to question whether I didn't work hard enough in my recovery, in order to get back to my full physical potential. But my mottos are, Progress over perfection and Perfection is overrated. Perfectionists fear failure, because if you truly try your hardest and don't succeed, you must not be perfect. As long as you leave room for failure -- say with procrastination -- you can blame the gap in effort.Though blame is lame.

So my main goal for the year is to take it easy by continuing to do what I've been doing, which is finding ways to make things that require a lot of effort a little more effortless. And to deny those who believe that if it isn't hard, it isn't worth doing. Sometimes, doing things because they're easy is reason enough. I have a steady practice of playing Spider solitaire on my phone, because I know I can pretty easily win a game. Endorphins achieved, thank you very much. Easy or not, I'll take the W.

I know I've talked a bit about Assistive Technology before, but I think it's worth highlighting a couple devices which have helped me feel a bit more independent as a one-handed person in a two-handed world, just because they sand down the effort of mundane tasks a bit:

  • It turns out that cutting the nails on the same fingers you use to hold the clippers is nigh impossible. Enter the One-Handed Manicurist.
  • Once in awhile, I come across a lid I can't Thighmaster tightly enough to open. Enter Jarbot.
  • And this clipboard is my constant companion, because you never know when a tiny receipt will need signing.

And I'll continue to say, "Yes," whenever possible. I am open to the universe and all it has to offer.