“Insanity is best defined as doing the same thing over and over while expecting a new result.”
By this definition, it is clear to me that I may just be insane. Daily, even hourly, I resist the small, quiet voice telling me that I need to slow dow, take it easy, not to push so hard. My inclination is to ignore the warning bells as they ding and dong their alerts. Like a high-spirited horse that resists being loaded onto a trailer, I balk at compromising my intentions because of mere physical limitations; I repeatedly reject that I have limitations on what I can do and how and when I can do them. Because these limitations spring primarily from physical constraints rather than psychological ones, I mistakenly believe that it’s Mind Over Matter and I should be able to accomplish anything.
I hold on to the theory that I can do anything I want to if I set my mind to it. I set out to prove this theory almost everyday. And almost every day, I discover that there are real, physical barriers to achieving many of my goals. Despite my best efforts, I am disappointed to rediscover that I do not, thus far, have the psychological ability to bend what appears to be a physical law.
Let me describe my particular brand of reality. Early yesterday morning, what I believed was an inch of snow, was, instead, closer to four. I intended to simply sweep the snow and leave the rest for my son to shovel, but the pleasure of being outside in the snow propelled me. I knew better than to lift the snow, instead, I engineered the shovel as if I were a human plow. And plow I did. I cleared the cement platform of the driveway and then, the 45-foot sidewalk. My next task was going to visit my father at the Holyoke Soldier’s Home. My friend drove, and I rode shotgun. We spent about 45 minutes with my father, then returned home for an appointment. It was my first piano lesson in 40 years! I had a new cushion to help alleviate the discomfort of sitting on the piano bench, but it was still uncomfortable. My instructor was very accommodating; she encouraged me to move around often, to do whatever it took to get through the lesson. After she left, I intended to lie down for just fifteen minutes. I was disoriented when I opened my eyes to find the light seeping from the sky. It was approaching 3:30p.m.. I had to get to the post office, a task I had already deferred three times this week. I do not drive too often, but I was ready to make this small run. The grocery store was my ultimate goal because we were so low on food. I was pleased with myself when I pulled out a cart and started to shop. Halfway through the aisles, I ran out of energy. I felt like the Energizer bunny. My big wind-up key wound down and I was done. I still needed to get to the far outer corner of the store for ham and fruits and vegetables. It hurt to push the cart, it hurt to move my legs. With supreme will, I finished the task. I angrily wiped away the errant tears that escaped my eyes as I stood in the check-out line. Once I made it outside, I transferred the bags to the car, climbed into the car and put back the seat. I cried for half an hour. I used my phone-a-friend option just like on the game show Millionaire. Regrettably, no one was available. I put my seat back, put on the sear warmer and shut my eyes. When I opened them, I had lost fifteen minutes. However, I could feet my right leg again, so I felt ready to drive home. At home, I made three trips to bring the groceries inside, emptied the bags then ran a bath. By seven o’clock, I was in my jammies, ready for bed. I slept for three hours, then woke up feeling like I had run a marathon. Today was spent recovering. I had the shelves stocked, the house tidied, and my housekeeping duties met. My to-do list for today would have be set aside. I have laid low, hoping to recover. I missed two parties, both invitations I very much appreciated.
Ultimately, I was reminded that everything has a price. My deliberate effort to flout my body’s limitations served no purpose other than to reaffirm that I have limits. How many times will I have to make this mistake until I accept a reality I wish to reject? I do not know. I suspect that it will be a long time until I am ready to stake my claim to sanity.