It was the summer term and I had just turned 5. Just like every other day at school, I was preparing to play the boys’ game of choice for our lunchtime adrenaline rush; kiss-chase. As the only girl who would actually run from the boys (I did not want to get kissed by them), this was standard protocol. I tightened the buckles on my Mary-janes, adjusted my headband, and then I was off! A flash of ginger hair and a grey pinafore careening through the small groups of other students. Off the grass and past the wooden climbing frame, then back onto the cement path to take me towards the back of the playground. I turned back to see how much of a lead I had on the boys (a rather good one, they wouldn’t be catching me anytime soon), when suddenly…WHACK! In looking behind me, I had totally forgotten to keep my eyes peeled for the obstacles ahead of me. I tripped over the biggest tree root in the history of tree roots (that may be an alternative truth) and I kissed the pavement. Within what felt like seconds, I was scooped up by my teacher and carried to the sick bay. I had knocked out four of my front teeth. Almost before the tears hit my cheeks, I was scooped up by my teacher and whisked off to the matron in sick bay. Kiss-chase was subsequently banned at our school, much to my disappointment.
At this point you may be asking yourself why I’m sharing this with you. Well this seemingly random anecdote, it is one of my fondest memories. Why? Because aside from it reminding me of the halcyon days of my youth, it helps me remember where I need to focus my energy. When you are going through a difficult time, especially ones that look to be never ending, it can be easier to look back and reminisce on how things used to be. It can be so very easy to begin partitioning your life into ‘before’ and ‘after’ an incident or a difficult period in your life. We naturally put rose-tinted glasses on our memories, it helps us cope. But if you spend all your time looking back at the rosy memories, you won’t have a chance to look out for the obstacles and opportunities that are coming your way.
Everyone has a finite amount of energy – especially spoonies – and you simply can’t afford to spend all your spoons on the past. If you do, you won’t have the energy to hurdle over the obstacles coming up ahead. Or worse yet, grab the opportunities that come along with both hands!
Over the last two years, I have had a steady decline in my mobility. I have been fighting it with the likes of physiotherapy, but unfortunately I’ve continued to deteriorate. For the last month, I have been largely housebound while I await a wheelchair. It’s easy to look back and remember that only 2 years ago, I was cycling 15 miles a day to and from work. Or that only 1 year about I rarely had to use my crutches. It’s easier for me to look back at how things used to be, than deal with the reality of being on the waiting list for a wheelchair. If I spent too much time looking back, I wouldn’t see the wonderful opportunities that are coming my way. My health is forcing me to pause all aspects of my life – work, education and social – to give it the stage. This is an opportunity. Albeit an opportunity that has had a very difficult start, it is certainly an opportunity. Had I not been forced; I would never have taken this time off and given my health the full attention it has been demanding for years.
Reminiscing has a time and a place. Don’t look back too often, or you’ll miss the tree root coming up ahead!