Wednesday, March 07, 2007

neither here nor there


I suspect that only the very holy and the very ambitious live their lives according to a clearly articulated Mission Statement. The rest of us have less clearly thought-out goals (mostly short-term), habits, and expectations. We know that the world will be more or less the same every morning as it was when we went to bed the night before.

In fact, I suspect that most people avoid thinking too hard about all of those big "what are we doing with our lives" questions. The questions are too thorny to grapple with on a regular basis. In my life, these sorts of questions get addressed very late at night, either in a bout of insomnia, over one too many drinks, or angrily and at the top of our lungs. I tend to ignore these things until I feel really riled up, and then things come spilling out messily. Lots of passion, not much resolution.

And as far as the questions of "who am I?" Well, that's even trickier. I think we define ourselves by what we do, and what we wish to do. But, again, I think we often avoid thinking about these subjects, because they are so complicated.

Immediately following Robb's accident, I flipped a switch in my brain.

I stopped thinking (read: worrying) about the future, because we had no idea what the future would bring. I adopted the attitude that I was going to think about the moment I was living in, and just sort of ignore the other stuff, because there was nothing I could do about that, anyway. The future? Too many unknowns. Too scary. No point speculating about things we know nothing about.

Robb adopted a similar zen-like stance. He decided that his job from that time forward was to be the patient, and to do everything he could to improve the chances of his recovery.

Now, a year later, I'm probing these questions. And it is about as pleasant as poking at a sore tooth with my tongue.

Robb had been an actor, and an artist, and a teacher. We were hikers, and thing-makers. We had a lot of energy, some of which actually got channeled into useful activities.

And now? Due to the current state of Robb's health, he is able to sit in a chair for somewhere between forty minutes and two hours before he has to go lie down. By nine o'clock at night he is completely wrung out, and he goes to bed, leaving me to bump around the apartment. His energy level fluctuates, and we never know how much or how little he'll be able to do. And, if this isn't Too Much Information, he needs to be near a bathroom at all times.

So, that's the Now. As far as the Later, we still have no idea. Doctors don't know, and won't speculate. I live in a weird limbo-land between not wanting to get my hopes up, and being wildly, stubbornly optimistic.

However, this state of limbo is no way to live my life for extended periods of time. I'm doing fine at work, and accomplishing all my tasks. But at home, I feel weirdly rudderless. I tend to drift from thing to thing, and end up getting almost nothing done. I spend way too much time fooling around with nothing important. I'm almost incapable of finishing any creative project (not that I'm starting that many, either). I'm not making social plans, because of some weird unspecified discomfort. I'm not depressed. I'm just sort of floating, aimlessly. I feel very unfocused.

I really did put my life on hold after the accident, which, I believe, was the right thing to do.

But how do I get things back on a normal, productive, future-thinking track? I wish I knew.

Today's photo is from the farmhouse where I lived when I ran the paint shop for the Glimmerglass Opera. Over the course of the last two summers that I lived there, I had twenty cats (a dozen the first summer, and eight the second) neutered or spayed and tested and immunized for kitty diseases. I think that this particular sweet girlie is the mother of our kitty Linguine.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ya know, you seem to be in a sort of forced "stop and smell the roses" situation. You have a place to live and to be warm/cool, food to eat and enough money to pay bills and do some things you enjoy. Lots of people never know that.

It's a rotten way you both got there...but maybe your joint purpose it to show the rest of us a slower way to travel through this life.

One of my favorite sayings is: Today is a gift..that's why it's called the present. Todau is all we have and we need to enjoy it as fully as we can....and if that means "wasting" a night sitting and talking.........well, that will be better remembered than that last night mopping the floor.

You and Robb are a gift to each other.....enjoy the good and the bad. See how far you've come in the last year...personally and healthwise. I know your attitude has rubbed off on me...so you'll never know how far-reaching your sharing is.
Zoe

Anonymous said...

Lisa,
I have found that when I'm at that certain point when its not healthy for me to think too much about the future, and it isnt practical to think about changing the present too much, a short-term charitable project that fits your scheduled could keep the mind occupied until futher notice.

For me, it was working weekends for 10-12 weeks on a Habitat for Humanity house.

Perhaps an evening class (taking or teaching), or joining a gym that keeps late hours for a couple of months.

If you can let yourself feel the progress of whatever project you take on, you will still feel that growth and energy.

I think Robb's "job" of being the patient is a great one. He is feeling (most days) that sense of growth and progress that you are not, especially when he looks back over the last year to see how far he's come.

I'm sure you are excited and happy for the progress he has made, but that is no substitute for your own personal growth. Pick something that will stimulate your mind and your body and give you something to be able to say "I DID THIS!"

Robb, I know you will be excited for Lisa to do this. Its not that you're going to be doing things "apart" or going seperate ways, right now, you have different 'strides' on the life accomplishment chart.

When it all equals out after a time, and Robb doesnt have to work so hard being the patient, and Lisa doesnt feel so much in an inanimate state (relationship/ future wise) you two will find so much more to share between yourselves!

Best of everything to you both!

Anonymous said...

I have been following your story for awhile and i must say, your honesty is refreshing. I appreciate so much the comments you make and the tao like beings you are.
When I personally get to the point that I realise I have no control, it helps me to believe. I believe in a God who loves and cares. One who watches and in the still of the night, reaches out to hold my hand. That is easy to say when the trials are small, but it's all I have to grasp onto when the trials are huge and the nights never ending. And it's in those still small moments that I know He is watching and helping. Can it be explained? Not is words perhaps, but it helps to feel and know. -TBH

Anonymous said...

I hope that when you write, it helps. Hard to say "I need to do this for me", but you do need to take care of yourself as well. Thinking about you and Rob.

Martha said...

Open your copy of Victorian Lace Today and get lost in hours of intricate lace. Not going to help you in your situation, but you will have something warm and beautiful to wrap yourself in when Robb goes to bed.

Miss & love you,
Martha

colormecynical said...

I find it interesting and a bit daunting that you and I are, to some degree, in the same boat. If just for very different reasons. I don't know where i'm going to be in two months--as per my location, career, emotional/relationship status, or income. No clue. While i've been here at BRT i've been complacent to not worry about it, but as time draws ever closer to the day my rear gets unceremoniously booted off the Intern Hizzle's front porch those same pre-grad anxieties begin to return. Thus far my lifestyle has been transient in nature--always a temporary stage between where i was and where I'm going. Until now i always had a plan. In short...I hear ya. But I think you have the capacity to rediscover passion and direction. You're a vibrant and intellectual woman in need of a community of like-minded individuals. I always feel more together and self-assured when i have other people to tell me that i appear together and self-assured. Though I live with five other people, i nevertheless feel tethered when my social circle fails to extend beyond my front door. Why go out when all your friends are right here? But when everyone you know is doing the same thing as you, you rarely find your friends' lives intriguing.

...I think i need to befriend a volcano explorer.

Anonymous said...

Your post reminded me of this short, beautiful video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=l70e1TfN34w

I'm really grateful we don't have to live life all at once. If we knew what tomorrow held, maybe it would be harder to focus on today.

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