Monday, April 13, 2009


It's a rough patch, as the reader may have guessed from the darkness of the last few posts. Today, I had a bizarre attack of "floating numbness"--I thought that I had suddenly and significantly lost feeling in my right leg, a limb that's already trouble enough. Couple of hours later, the numbness had left my leg, but I was feeling it in a band across my midriff. Couple that with the especially nasty fatigue of the last couple of weeks and... well, I've had enough, thank you very much; let's leave it at that.

Cut to earlier today: I find myself talking to students about their college choices. One of them is afraid to go "all the way" to Louisiana to a school our counseling staff thinks is absolutely perfect for her, clinging desperately to something closer to home but (for those who know her and the school she's tempted by) clearly the poorer choice. Another really wants to be a doctor, and she's going to be, there's no question about that, she's already doing graduate-level research at a local institution; and we're trying to convince her that even though the top-tier Ivy-League school we think is correct for her has "only" a 95% acceptance rate for its seniors applying to medical school, she is clinging tenaciously to a less lofty mid-tier school that is associated with a medical school and will guarantee her, today, acceptance to medical school in four years.

It's a challenge to explain to a seventeen-year-old how the difference between "possible" and "likely" is huge; how not to let unthinking fear force you to abandon an opportunity that only comes once in a lifetime; that not every "risk" is a real risk but even so, some "real" risks are worth taking... when you've learned those lessons yourself courtesy of a neurological disorder that simultaneously enriches and screws up your life. I certainly don't want to tell this dear little child-trying-to-become-an-adult that I know she should take this "risk" because some chances once missed don't come back, and I know all about how you need to make the most of opportunities because every time I sit down to play a pipe organ I can tell my legs don't work as well as they used to, there are pieces I can't play any more, and I'm never sure whether any given time is going to be my last because it'll be clear that whether I want to or not, it'll be time to pack it in.

So there's my paradox. I'm in a constant state of vague crappy depletion. Sometimes, I just don't want to do anything. And yet this very experience drives home to me that some chances don't stick around forever, and if you want to live fully, you have to get out of your chair and live. Which is the one thing that currently, I'm having the most trouble doing.

An "interesting" time, no?

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