Hard Truths Abolish Life’s Peripheral Pleasures (for Jean)

amaculardegeneration

Living with mental illness reminds me of the perpetual tightening of sight associated with macular degeneration.  A close friend’s mother is facing a destiny of dusk, the light of day dimming earlier and earlier like the cold and snowy late months of fall.  She’s waiting for disease to throw the switch as though she hadn’t paid her utility bill.  She asked me one afternoon during a summer visit, how dark is dark; how blind is blind; once it’s dark and I’m blind will I continue farther into the cave and deeper into its darkness; or is my blindness an unmarked dead-end?

I sat in front of her incapable of producing some quip of levity to lighten the despair.  I didn’t know how to answer.  Or, what to say.  The absence of chit-chat hung between us like humidity.  Finally I answered the only way I knew how: honest and awestruck.

I said, I’m not living with an insensitive eventuality; my conditions (serious mental health and cardio-pulmonary compromise) are likely to flatten me, like being crushed by an immense breaking ocean wave, or belly flopping into the speeding approach of pasture, absent of any canopy of resistance my last minutes hopelessly free-falling like aimless snowflakes.  Then it happened.  Stopped.  Quiet and conscious while the tiniest pieces of life clung to daylight, right before it too, daylight, stopped.

acandystoreYou and I are the little boy and little girl whose noses are pressed flat against the confectionary store window.  Our yearning is painfully apparent to the plumply indulgent chocolatiers who’s moving each bit of life with the careful determination of a chess master to capitalize on each enticing, heavenly, and scrumptious creation.  We’re accustomed to forfeiting the peripheral pleasures which adorn life for those unscathed by physical mutiny.  We’re weary of the world’s pace, gaining speed to get anyplace but right here on this bench.  And we’re disinterested in watching a generation plow through a banal life ignoring its dangers and instead pursuing schedules chock full of unwieldily opportunities and difficult-to-deny distractions, especially those who’ve never stared into the intense and stoic countenance of a doctor about to tell you the most incomprehensible truth.

To wonder and inquire about your predetermination is natural and reserved for the courageous.  To have courage in light of the truth you must’ve stopped pursuing distractions, stopped running away from things, and stopped denying your mortality.  And life’s hard truths can only be understood by the courageous.

3 comments

  1. “The human spirit is resilient and will adapt to life as it is now rather than wishing for life as it was.”
    Yes. I’m ageing. I’ll be 60 in less than two weeks. There are things I’ll never do again, feelings I probably won’t experience again, doors I won’t pass through again. But for every loss there is a compensation, you just have to find it and let it in. -hugs-

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  2. This is such a good blog, I hardly have words to share. All of us come to this point in life where we have to accept the inevitable of what lies before us. Our bodies break down and life changes forever. Your illness is different than my illness and yet they are the same. People avoid us because they don’t know what to say….the loneliness becomes as hard to bear as the illness itself. Everything familiar has to change and it’s gut-wrenching to accept. Once we come to acceptance, life becomes easier….we can deal with the losses and the fight (to keep life the same as it was before) lessens.

    Thank you for your words of wisdom. The human spirit is resilient and will adapt to life as it is now rather than wishing for life as it was.

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