Friday, March 14, 2008

Introspection on Spine and Death

I have this herniated disk in my spine. I've had it for a long time, and at times it's better and at times worse. There's no way to make it go away, outside of surgery which presents its own set of problems. So here I am. I take Motrin when I remember, and Vicodin when it gets obnoxious, and I march onward. There are millions and millions of people who have way worse physical problems than I do.

Insignificance notwithstanding, occasionally I get feeling a little desperate about it. I have two small children and I would like to be able to bound around and frisk effortlessly like some sort of lovely gazelle, instead of creaking around at times with all the elegance and vivacity of a pile of firewood.

I am, I must tell you, a person who feels omnipotent. I was raised by people who told me I could do anything I wanted, not in a sparkly dreamy-eyed way, but in a factual, casual way. Like, of course. So having something physically wrong with me which prevents me from doing things like running is very irksome. Because it's incontrovertible. Karate is not something that I chose to abandon. That choice was not mine. Sometimes I have felt like life sort of stretches out with limited choices from this point, and I have to keep dragging on through it with this or that painkiller.

I don't think about it a lot, but when I do think about it, it's kind of depressing.

Which is why I was surprised the other night when a new thought presented itself. I was having my usual glancing and wincing relationship with this issue while I was getting dried off after a shower. I found myself thinking that I only have to put up with this irritation for a while longer, and then I will be dead, after all it is only a body, and I am only in it for a while. This thought was not distressing to me -- it was comforting, like realizing you're going to be trading in your car. I wouldn't have thought, five years ago, that I would ever approach mortality in this kind of shitty, oh-well manner. I mean I'm sure one girl's shitty-oh-well is another girl's wow-enlightened but for me, I'm a little disappointed in myself.

I'm not dead yet, after all. No need to be getting philosophical.


  1. I'm a little different from you. I would have first felt enlightened and THEN realized how morbid I was.

    So do you think it's a good idea to raise your kids to feel invincible? I'm asking because I want my daughter to keep the incredible self-esteem she has now, but what do I do when the world hurts her?

  2. Yes. I think there are plenty of people out there who will tell her what she can't do, how she's not good enough, what her limits are. It was a great thing for me to have a mother who was just unambivalent, unconditionally supportive. Of course, this is me. I am biased, because this is how I was raised. When the world hurts her, you can say without reservation that the world is wrong.

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