“In the world of words, the imagination is one of the forces of nature” – Wallace Stevens
An epiphany can happen at the oddest times even when you are lying on your back watching your wheelchair scoot away. Now bare with me for a moment while I throw out a favourite topic of mine but I will withhold my rational for a future thought. That topic is “words”. Words are power. Words are crucial when it comes to shaping the direction or fostering beliefs in society. I think we just saw that in the Presidential election. If Geoffrey Chaucer walked into the world today there’s a good chance he wouldn’t understand most of the words we speak. However words, like power, change and we need to pay attention to those changes. We have to be aware of how we are using words and the impact they can have on our society. More on that to come but for now let’s return to my epiphany.
The weather has been a little on the rainy side for the last (well many) number of weeks and I needed to get out to get some water. There was a time in my life when kidney stones were a persistent and painful issue for me. These went on for eight years before my doctor suggested I try drinking filtered (not bottle) but water that has been through a reverse osmosis process. I’ve been doing that for almost 30 years now and haven’t had a kidney stone since. Maybe a coincidence or luck but it’s working so why screw with it. Regardless it was a nice coincidence when my son texted me to say they would be dropping by for a short visit and was there anything I needed picked up. Very timely considering I was just waiting for a break in the rain to go pick up my water.
The store I pick my water up is in a mall about five minutes north of me. It’s $2/six pack cheaper than the local store right next to me. If I’m just picking up a few groceries I will wheel over to the local mall and grab them however since I have to use my car to pick up water I will drive to the other mall and pick up a couple of dozen at a time. I may be a little OCD but I generally get the 500ml bottles since three of those will provide my usual 1500 ml of water intake plus they work perfectly for the configuration I use in my fridge to enhance access.
Two dozen will last me at least 8 days so three or four water trips a month with, on average, a savings of $10/month. Other factors include reachable space to store the water, empty bottle disposal (generally hand off a crate full to one of the local dumpster drivers), etc. I don’t know if that’s my OCD or my propensity for metacognition but on a subconscious level I rapidly analyze the potential outcomes and detail every aspect of a situation including purchasing water.
I asked him if he was coming from the north because I know my grandson goes to school in the south. A bit of Island philosophy is that if something is more than ten minute drive away, it better be pretty special. The idea of doing a three hour hike up Mt. Benson or even the five day trek along the West Coast Trail is fine and great physical conditioning which I find very admirable, however driving is a different matter. I wasn’t sure he would want to go that extra distance based on the limited information I had shared with him. With that said he told me no problem.
Great not having to go out in the rain is a plus but does remind me why I miss my underground parking in Calgary. I could get into my car without dragging my feet through puddles and I didn’t have to sweep snow off my car (something that is almost impossible to do from a seated position). These are the little things you really don’t think about until they stare you in the face.
Another example that even I didn’t recognize until I encountered it, garbage disposal. I had always lived in buildings with garbage chutes on each floor. Go down the hall to the garbage closet and drop a bag down the chute. Much different from carrying out a bag of garbage and trying to maneuver it over the top of a closed garbage bin (traditionally higher than my wheelchair). I wouldn’t have given that much thought until I encountered it the first time. In this discovery process you develop “work arounds” and just incorporate it into your daily activities then never think of it again.
He showed up with two dozen of the 355ml and wouldn’t accept my money so I can’t really argue it. What could I say, he meant well, he was just working from lack of information. We visited for a little while and then he was off to do the things he needed to do while my grandson stayed with grandpa for supper.
It wasn’t until the next day that the epiphany hit me which was about the same time the floor did. I can’t really lean far enough forward to grab much in my fridge so it’s organized in an almost reverse wedge appearance. The shelfs I can reach have everything lined up close to the front of those shelves. The lower ones I avoid due to balance issues and concerns over falling. And that is exactly what happened. While attempting to organize these smaller bottles I, while balancing on the edge of my seat to allow some reach, lean one way and my wheelchair went the other.
It’s that bottom shelf that I can’t really reach. As I was going down, my chair was going backwards my left leg caught under the lip of the kitchen counter twisting my knee into an uncompromising position. I must have passed out briefly because when I opened my eyes I was looking deep into the bottom shelf of my fridge. The one I’ve never been able to reach.
One more item to put in my inventory of “reasons why”. I organized based on tried and tested reasons. After all, I am the one who will pay the price of other peoples goodwill. Sometimes even I don’t realize why I do certain things the way I do until an incident, usually involving my physical well-being, reminds me.
I’m not sure what I did to my knee but so far, besides a bit of tenderness and minor swelling, it’s fine if I treat it cautiously. And this brings me back to my opening comment on the importance of “words”. Words are only as good as the explanation that goes with them.
There are way too many things I do without thinking about it, to me they are second nature. People who know me tell me regularly about certain things I do that they would have never thought of until they experienced it with me. My son wasn’t aware of these details around my water use because we have never discussed it. How could I expect him to recognize these little things when often I don’t? I hadn’t shared this with him and it never really dawned on me that I should. But then what good are words if they aren’t used to effectively frame situations?
Why I organize or do things in certain ways is irrelevant if other people are not aware. Although I appreciate other peoples goodwill it can often be less productive than if I did it myself. People look at a situation from a certain perspective, generally their own which often doesn’t mesh well with mine but I was raised to believe it’s rude to refuse goodwill. An example this morning was a short discussion with a local lady on why I should consider buying a scooter. I use to sell scooter in the brief time I worked at Medi-Chair in Calgary. It wasn’t until I pointed out that to use a scooter you need to have some standing ability to get seated. It was like the light came on over her head (she’s an ambulatory scooter user).
I usually have specific reasons why I do certain things that are adaptive in nature but second nature to me. I am going to have to do a bit better job of explaining my purpose on why I do certain things the way I do. I need to use my words in a more descriptive way, I structure my life for a reason…