Monday, September 19, 2011

The Correct Path

Some meditations on "path choosing."

An interesting post on Tiny Wisdom today, about times that "taking the easy road" may not always be the right choice.

I flashed through a lot of instant reactions when I read this article.

First: "Dude, you don't know @#$# about 'taking the hard road,' if 'hard' for you is the decision whether to wear sweat pants or dress up for work when you're working at home. Try 'if I don't stop standing up to do the dishes right this minute, I may not be able to walk from the kitchen to the closest chair before I fall down and can't get up.' "

Next: "Well, for those who believe in things like past-life karma and choosing your parents and the path this life is going to take you before you're born, absolutely everything I'm going through right now is my choice, and it definitely wasn't the easy road."

But finally, when I worked my way through all the "easy roads" in thinking about this (those easy roads being glib reactions that came easily and felt satisfying but truthfully, took me no closer to enlightenment, and "the easiness of an easy road being the only reward" was certainly exemplified by that particular path), I realized... that every moment presents a choice of roads. Is the way I'm spending this moment the best way to spend it? The M.S. life is fraught with path choices, and the choices have much more intensely felt, and harder to deny, consequences than the pre-M.S. life.

And here's another path choice. I'm involved with This Place (details omitted because they're unimportant to the story) where I thought that I had Certain Talents to contribute. Except the person who's in charge of receiving these gifts and coordinating them With The Program isn't always interested in them. That has been really galling me, especially because in my pre-M.S. days—and, more importantly, in Other Places manned by Other People, these very Certain Talents were enthusiastically embraced. Constantly. I was about to say "I had been hoping that..." but the truth is more like "I had assumed that" Things Would Be The Same, now and always.

And they're not.

(Well, that's the life with M.S. right there, isn't it? We assumed that Things Would Be Always Be The Same. And they're not. They're very, very different, in ways we'd never imagined they'd be.)

Anyway, back to the story... I realized today that what's really going on is something very much like this: I've put all my love, my energy, my perception of my self and my worth as a person, into cooking a steak. And I put the steak down in front of someone. And they turn their head away—they want nothing to do with it. It's not that they don't like it, they pass no value judgement on it at all—it's that they don't want it.

Because the creature I presented it to was... a chicken.

Now, whose fault is this refusal of my artistry, my love, my soul? The chicken's? Chickens don't eat steak. It's not that they don't love eating, they do love eating. Certain things... but not steak.

And the real question is... why do I keep putting the steak in front of the chicken? And then getting bummed out that the chicken doesn't want it? And waiting for the chicken to see the light and realize that I'm a wonderful chef and eat the damned steak? It's a chicken.

A long and convoluted metaphor about "choosing the wrong path, and then wigging out that the path isn't taking you where you want to go." Robert Heinlein said it quite succinctly: Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

And that's M.S. It took away the food critic, and put in front of you... a chicken. A finicky chicken. The meals you always loved serving... just don't interest the chicken.

The M.S. highway provides endless onramps to wrong paths. Nostalgia for dreams that aren't going to be realized the way you dreamed them. Depression at things you used to be able to do and now can't. Not knowing whether [fill in the blank] will ever happen.

But even the M.S. highway does not contain a sign that says "go nowhere." Signs that read "don't go this way" wouldn't exist if signs that read "do go this way" didn't. There's no need for "don't go this way" signs if "go this way" roads didn't exist.

Choosing the correct path. Even more important on the M.S. highway, given the ever-varying number of "danger: severe damage" pathways.

Cheez, it isn't like dealing with malfunctioning bladders isn't enough trouble already. It's hard enough to choose roads that have enough rest stops; I suppose that's also metaphoric in its own way... Again, humor like this, you just can't write, can you?


nicole said...

I like that blog you introduced me to, but it does seem like everything doesn't necessarily apply to MS...just like the rest of the world!

Robert Parker said...

Yeah... sometimes they're spot on, sometimes they're completely off the mark. They try, though, I definitely gotta give 'em that.