Monday, June 21, 2010

Clarity; fog

Both clarity and ... well, certainly the opposite of clarity; but not confusion. English is very poor in vocabulary covering things that aren't concrete. There are many (far too many) words for different kinds of pain, but none besides "numb" to describe unclear or missing sensation. In describing unambiguity, English excels; for things that don't exist as measurable and discrete entities, it fails--or at least, comes up lacking, missing the mark. Or, to use the Greek word that eventually was tortured into the concept of "sin," hamartia -- a word that means "missing the mark," but of course doesn't exist as a single term in English; QED.

Perhaps I should spend the next 50 years learning Japanese, which is probably the only language that has the vocabulary I'm looking for. After all, from the English point of view, nothingness isn't, but from the Japanese spiritual point of view, nothingness is.

But to make the most of English's clarity, and to return to the topic at hand: some (mostly) good health news today. Had my yearly eye exam, the doc said that my eyes were fine, my optic nerve was in excellent shape, what visual oddities I reported that I've gone through recently were not in the eyes. Last year, she did some sort of disco test using a very Star Trek device, to get a baseline of my optic nerve responses (for someone who saw the first generation of Laserium at the Griffith Observatory, it was quite enjoyable simply to look at), and this year she said that I was clearly doing so well that there was no need to do it.

She also said that MS tends to age the eyes rapidly, so that at the ripe old age of 49, I had the eyes of a 59 year old, and she showed me what sort of prescription she would give me were I actually 59, and boy did that look great, so there we are. Another of the gifts of MS... would we call this "seeing the future"? I already know what 59 will look like... or perhaps I should say, what it'll see like.

But when things aren't clear, oh boy, they aren't clear. I have developed a very odd relationship with driving... being that I'm in car-crazy LA, it's drive or be imprisoned in your own home. Yes there is public transportation, but what is useful requires driving to get to, and the busses... well, let's just say, a 20-minute car trip can be a three-hour bus trip, only an hour and a half if you're lucky. I still am able to drive with no problems at all, I have full cognitive and visual functioning, I'm always in complete control of the car, but because of the odd sensations that my feet send me all the time, it's just deucedly uncomfortable, and often an entirely unpleasant experience.

This morning, I drove to school. Open freeway, no traffic, no problem. Got to school, had to parallel park, had to do a lot of brake use--unpleasant. Driving home--even more unpleasant. So, here's my conundrum: Could I drive to the store a block away? Of course I could. Would I endanger myself and others? Of course not. Would it hurt? Of course it would. Would walking around the store be unpleasant? Of course it would; walking around the house is unpleasant, a little less so because I can do it in bare feet, but once I have to go to shoes, it's no fun. Would the trip there and the walking around there make the trip back even more unpleasant? Probably.

So... how much do I want that ice cream, for dessert? Or those apples, for tomorrow's breakfast? Or those supplies to make quiche that'll be several days' breakfasts? Or could I wait and get them tomorrow (maybe things'll be better tomorrow, although honestly, it's doubtful) or make that "supplies" trip the next time we're out doing something else (not always practical).

Could I do it? Probably, but it's gonna be bad; I think that, at least, is clear. Should I do it? That's where the clarity disappears. Does it cost too much to do it? Does it cost too much to not do it? Does it matter if I do it? Does it matter if I don't do it?

"Acceptance" is something that I know is on my spiritual plate, with the whole MS thing. But right now, what am I supposed to accept? Not knowing whether I need to accept disability, not knowing whether I am actually "disabled" enough to accept being disabled, not knowing whether I'm missing the mark and actually am not disabled at all and need to just suck it up and suffer but that the price of that suffering is mobility? Somehow, "suffering" being the price of being able to get my own damned ice cream from the store is odd... is ice cream worth the price of suffering? OK, so I don't get ice cream tonight... does that have any meaning? Or am I supposed to simply not care about "not being able to just hop in the car and go do anything I want, any time I want" because in the final analysis, how important is that, really?

Or is this another lesson about unattachment... unattachment to my former way of life? Because one thing is clear... my former way of life is precisely that: former. (At least one thing is clear. Whether it matters that it's former, and exactly what part of it is permanently "former" and what part of it is simply on hold, for the moment... that's the opposite of "clear.")

Hey MS, just tell me what you want me to learn, and I'll learn it faster. Really. Let's give that a try, for a change.

No comments: