One of the immutable facts about my neurological condition centers on its changeability. In the immortal words of ortho-surgeon Ted Sandow, “abnormal bodies behave abnormally”. For the last few days, walking has proven challenging.
People respond variously to the sight of my profound wobble. Some avert their eyes, assuming that I am drunk or demented. Others fall over themselves to offer what they intend and perceive as helpfulness, sometimes making matters worse. They grab my arm, throwing me sideways. They push forward the door on which I have stabilized myself. They grab my pocketbook, which I have learned to use as a countervailing weight.
When I strive for gentle words to fend off their actions, most people express some level of outrage that I dare to rebuff their earnest assistance. Countless times, folks have actually insisted that if I accepted help, people would like me more. Apparently, conditional affection compensates for physical threat to my precarious hold on verticality. Few believe that I demur not from pride, stubbornness, or perversion but to protect myself from injury.
Last night, I dreamed that I had planned a new YouTube video. I wanted to “go live”, unrehearsed, to pontificate on a subject about which my dream-self felt considerable passion. Someone helping me kept correcting my grammar, scolding me for awkward mannerisms, and standing between me and the computer with which I had gone online. Eventually this person admitted that she had stopped the live feed because she didn’t consider my effort to be adequate. I raged at her interference. She responded with indignation.
I woke ahead of the alarm. As I moved around the house, I reflected on my dream. I wondered which participant in the video drama bothered me more, and which character represented my inner self. One disdained help; one forced help on an unwilling recipient. Two sides of a sad story. As I poured coffee, I found myself smiling, rueful, amused. Arguing with yourself again, I said, out loud, into the warm coziness of my tiny house.
It’s the twentieth day of the sixty-second month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.