This Sunday, the family went to a book fair. Not for the books, but because there was a presidential panel there for the upcoming elections early next year, and my wife wanted to listen. Whilst she was doing that, I decided not to subject Smallsteps to the boredom and instead took her around the fair stands of books and to find what else we could do. There was a craft room where we could make bookmark characters out of folded paper. It was a lot of fun and Smallsteps will make one for each of our Christmas guests, with characters that represent them.
If interested in trying: Instructions
While 95% of the books were in Finnish, I did find a small stand that had some English classic titles and bought a couple. One of them was Blood Meridian by Cormack McCarthy, which I am looking forward to reading, as I have heard it is quite an incredible journey. However, I haven't been able to read a single book since the stroke. It is incredibly energy intensive to read as my brain doesn't make the pictures of association automatically. My imagination doesn't run free, it is caged by my manual ability and therefore, my conscious awareness. So much of the enjoyment is taken out of reading when there is no automated flow to the mental imagery.
However, if I am to learn anything new, or build up my internal database for future application, I have to go through these processes and get more comfortable, with being uncomfortable. It is hard to have to continue to do something that was once enjoyable, which has now become work, but this is the situation many of us find ourselves in throughout our life. Normally it comes as we progress to the point that it is too easy or, we are just no longer interested in what we are doing, but normally we have the option to change to something else we are more interested in.
This is actually something I am very unsure about, because normally our interests are "inspired" by something in our experience, and then the interest builds as we imagine ourselves doing that thing, or improving in that thing. I don't actually have this ability, as my imagination is not very good at visualizing what I have no experience with, which means that I struggle to build enthusiasm and motivation for anything new. A weird problem - one of many my brain has.
It is not acceptable to me to just turn the corner of the page down and stop my life because I can no longer do what I used to be able to, or freeze myself in time and place, becoming more and more irrelevant as time goes on. It is not that me attempting to counteract it is going to succeed, but I have to at least try to improve my experience throughout this life, if for no other reason than to set an example for my daughter.
It was a stark reminder when Smallsteps said the other day, "If you can do it, I can too, Daddy", that I am a rolemodel for her and as such, need to demonstrate what it means to live a good life, even if I don't feel the results of a good life. In some ways, I suspect that my feelings are similar to those suppressed by some kind of anti-depressant, where it lifts the lows, but also trims off the highs. There is very width to that band, and nothing that sparks enough interest to develop the motivation to act upon it. It is like desensitization to experience. And while I want my daughter to develop strong emotional understanding and control, I don't want her to bury her feelings in a bid to trim the lows and highs. That is not control, it is avoidance.
I am reminded every moment of every day of the limitations, yet I have also been avoiding moving on fast enough. It isn't that I haven't accepted my current capabilities, but I have been putting on hold adding new skills to me range, things that I have never tried before. This is partly because I am no longer easily engaged into something new, but also because I haven't actively developed the habits to force engagement. Forcing life is something a lot of people disagree with, but I have found that even before I had a stroke, it is necessary at times, as to get the best out of ourselves, we have to at least occasionally do what we don't want to do. If we can't flex those muscles, we are going to be heavily limited.
Reading a book doesn't seem like a challenge to most people I assume, but for me it is almost a mountain, because while I want to read this title, I have zero motivation to actually do it. How can we both want and not have motivation simultaneously, is a question to explore for another day. But for now, I have to turn to the page my life is on, remove the bookmark, and keep progressing onto the next chapter.
Smallsteps isn't a placeholder, she is a book I never want to put down.
[ Gen1: Hive ]