I am so relieved it is Friday. It’s just one thing after another.
There’s a lot going on that’s good and bad. And so much of it is good things, that while I know I need to slow down and take it easy, I don’t want to.
I have this pressing feeling that I need to make up for lost time. I need to make up for the years I’ve lost, the money I’ve wasted, the opportunities I’ve passed up.
My birthday is coming up in about a week, and for some reason, turning 50 feels like an event. I don’t know why, because I’ve never actually given my age much thought. Everybody says I seem much younger — though some of that may be immaturity. I’ve never been much for numbers, anyway. And since I have no kids, I don’t feel the march of time the same way everyone else around me does.
It’s strange. I have a life I can be proud of… skills I can be proud of… peace of mind that’s with me in important ways… a life filled with interest and engagement.
But I still feel dull and dense and slow. And I can’t keep up with everything that I want to keep up with. It’s irritating. It’s strange.
Well, whatever. I can’t sit around, feeling badly about all this. It’s time for me to get going. The day awaits.
Time has really gotten away from me, this morning. I was up early with my spouse – who was up late (really late) – and we got to talking, which is good. I have a doctor’s appointment in another hour and a half, and I need to get ready to go. And here I thought I had at least another hour. Funny, how the time flies when I go online.
Anyway, it’s 12/21/12 – the big day, according to a lot of folks. Some go on and on about the end of the world, but what I’ve heard from more folks is that it’s actually the beginning of the next one. A new world. A new start. Not right away – for what really changes in an instant, if it’s truly going to last? But starting now, moving gradually towards What’s Next.
Now, I am pretty much of an agnostic, when it comes to this sort of stuff. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Who the heck knows? But it is a way I like to think about things. And even if there’s nothing special about this day, other than it’s the marker of when the days start to get longer (and people Up North get closer to seeing some sunlight again), and that we have attached certain numbers to it, I can certainly choose to do with it what I like.
Just like I can every single day.
If I want numbers to inspire me, I can look at the clock — I can decide at 12:12 or 12:21, each and every day, to start fresh – hit the proverbial reset button. Or I can set my alarm for 3:33 each afternoon and treat that as a “reset”. Probably not a bad idea, since my daily clock seems to wind down around 12 noon each day, and then pick up each afternoon around 3:30 or so.
Numbers… Yeah, numbers. I have always played games with them, and I find them fascinating. When I’m driving long distances and I get tired, I play games with the numbered mile markers beside the highway, and that perks me up right away. Whatever does it for you to make your day a little more interesting, a little less stressed, a little more enjoyable… well, that’s alright by me.
And whatever it takes to get our heads out of a terrible space, is fine with me — provided it’s not killing brain cells or doing harm to others (which a lot of people find enjoyable, sadly). My argument about all the Doomsday stuff is that We Just Don’t Know. We can think we know, we can suppose to know, but doomsday-sayers have been in that business for as long as humans have walked the earth. And magically, we’re still here.
The only impact they seem to have is making us feel like crap, while we’re waiting for something that isn’t going to happen.
Now, I’m not going to get into a theological debate over this — I’m just saying that for all the people who have staked their reputations on THE END being just around the corner, how many of them do you remember? Few, if any. Because when they’re proven wrong, as they so often are, they just fade from view — and go back to their work doing whatever they were doing before. And all we’re left with is a bad taste in our mouths and a little more stress to drag us down.
So, on this momentous day, when certain people are celebrating the end of the old and the beginning of the new, I look to the day myself, and I wonder what else I can do that will improve my life and the lives of those around me. Whatever the date, whatever the occasion, it’s a good thing to do in any case. I think about the ways I can turn things around that I’m not happy about… including my doctor’s impression of me as a “risk taker” that I am very uncomfortable with. I shall be having a conversation with them in another couple of hours, and I’m writing it all down ahead of time, so I don’t lose my train of thought. I can turn things around at work by really focusing on what’s in front of me, not getting distracted, and doing a better job of following up. I can improve my experience overall, by improving the skills that make me feel like the person I really am with the capabilities I really have. And I can find other like-minded individuals who are seeking to make the same kinds of positive changes — both personally and on the larger social and cultural stage.
For some reason, this time really feels like a turning point for me. I feel pretty energized by the possibilities… and the thing that makes me feel even more energized, is hearing so many people talk about new beginnings, where a week or so ago, they were talking about drudgery and sadness and misfortune and all that. People are stepping up to take more responsibility for their lives and their situations, and that’s really exciting for me. Because I’ve always known it was possible — and now with this “new era” dawning, more people are starting to agree with me.
I guess that’s the thing that excites me the most about this Winter Solstice — that other people are realizing the same thing I’ve know for many, many years: that anything is possible, if we put our minds and hearts to it, and we don’t accept the same-old-same-old as a given.
Truly, it is a new day. And I’m so happy others are seeing it, too.
“My name is Daniel Ilabaca. I used to have nightmares. I used to be angry. I used to try to run through walls. I used to battle with my obstacles. I used to try to fight with my fears. It used to make me tired. But I found a better way. I knew there would always be another wall and another place to fall. I learned to use my obstacles. I learned to go over them. And around them. Now I am free of my fears. Now I am awake. Now I am happy. My name is Daniel Ilabaca. And I live what I dream.”
You should watch it, too. Don’t try it at home (unless you’ve been training like a beast for a very long time), but watch it.
I’m a little sore today. Changed up my workouts. Pushing myself harder, doing the kinds of movements that actually have something to do with my life.
It’s more than about getting in decent physical condition, losing the winter weight, getting rid of the extra pounds. It’s about stamina. Strength. Being able to go higher and do more and not getting worn out in the process.
I’ve noticed that I do much better, overall, when I am in good physical condition. TBI can screw up your metabolic system — how your body creates and manages energy. It can also make you tired more quickly, and tiredness can lead to agitation as well as a host of cognitive and behavioral issues. I find that when I’m tired, I get angry quicker, I do stupid things more, I say things I don’t mean to say. Things fall apart more, and I react more strongly to them.
Things rapidly fall out of perspective, when I am tired.
So, I’m working on my stamina, which really depends on my strength. Physical strength. The ability to sustain physical activity without running out of steam. If I have more physical strength — and flexibility — I have more reserves to draw from. I can do the simple things for longer, without getting thrashed. And that means I can postpone the meltdown — or avoid it entirely — better than when I am out of shape and do not have the energy and strength to go on.
Make no mistake — brain injury, even mild, does a number on you. And the mild stuff is even more pernicious, because it’s not obvious, but it takes an internal toll that over the long term can be VERY difficult to navigate and negotiate.
So, if I build up my strength and flexibility — take good care of my body overall — it gives me the ability to do things more easily in my everyday life. And I feel better about myself, being in decent condition. Able to lift myself up. Better able to support myself, literally as well as figuratively. And balance. It lets me balance.
Oh yes — BALANCE — that’s gotten a whole hell of a lot better. I used to have to hold onto the handle of the oven in the kitchen, when I did my leg lifts. Now I can stand and balance without needing to hold on. And I can even stand on one leg, arms outstretched, and do my leg lifts — front, back, and side — and not fall over.
This is big. Because balance has been such a challenge for me over the years, and few things set me off more than being off balance. It’s exhausting. But with more strength, more core strength, especially, I can balance and I have more of a foundation to rely on, so even when I am having trouble with my ears, my legs and core can compensate for it. And I don’t need to fall over.
See, here’s the thing – no matter what, there will always be walls. There will always be obstacles. There will always be something getting in the way. Whether it’s TBI or mTBI or concussion or constant pain or vertigo or tactile defensiveness or headaches or mental fogginess… there will always be something that gets in the way. But I don’t have to let that stop me.
Watch parkour on YouTube for a few hours, and then tell me the usual obstacles need to always get in the way. The point of watching this is NOT to go out and do it. I don’t have anywhere near the physical strength to pull this stuff off, and I really can’t take the chance of more concussions, from jumping from high places and climbing up walls. The point of watching this IS to see how others negotiate obstacles in their own individual ways and truly defy common “wisdom” saying that such things are not possible.
It is possible, and with the proper training and dedication and mindset, it IS possible. They even make it look easy.
In much the same sense, I see no reason why those of us who battle these complications of concussion and TBI shouldn’t find our own way of overcoming the obstacles that get in our way. The obstacles could be as mundane as going to the grocery store, or as overwhelming as taking on a new job or a new career, or navigating the hazardous waters of human relationship.
With the proper training, consistent discipline and practice, and true commitment to living the best life possible, who knows what else could happen in your own life? I’m still working on figuring out what else can happen in my own.