Wednesday, 11 May 2016

I Can't

There's a lot of "I can't" in my life. I can't walk. I can't go for a stroll on a beach or the riverbank. I can't hop out of bed, throw on something to wear, and rush out to have an early morning coffee with a friend. I can't make my own bed. I can't stand up to go pee. I can't pick up a box of wine. I can't... I can't... I can't...

Now before anyone says "there's lots of things I can't do", just think about this. Is it that you can't do them, or that you make choices which limit your ability to do them? Even though there are many things I can't do, I admit freely there are things I don't do, simply because doing them would limit my ability to do others things, or because doing them takes too much effort, or because I can get someone else to do it for me. For example, I say I "can't" unload my own dishwasher. This isn't precisely true. I can unload it, only the effort is exhausting and the reach is risky. I don't do it, if I can avoid it, simply because it's too much, and I can get someone else to do it.

I hear from a lot of people about things they "can't" do. I get angry sometimes when I hear them. It's not that they can't. It's that they choose not to, so that they can do other things. They use their choices as limiting language. I can't do this because I am doing that. What they should be saying is that I won't be able to do this, because I am already doing that.

The other thing I hear is people telling me I should focus on what I can do, and not worry about what I can't do. That's a pile of bullshit, especially when it comes from someone who suffers from none of my limitations. It's like people saying I should think more about what I have and less about what I have lost, when they have lost nothing themselves, at least not like I have.

This is not to say that there is not loss in the lives of others. It is to say that each of us has a different path, with different losses and different choices. So before you try to tell me to think more about what I can do, and less about what I can't do, take a moment to reflect on my situation. Remember that what I can't do is quite literal, not a choice, but a complete limitation. And it's a list which grows longer every day. When I say "I can't", it's a statement of fact, not a reflection of choice. And I am getting pretty tired of it.

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