A few years ago, I went out running errands before going to my weekly business meeting. And I was thoroughly…. braced. Very, very braced. Both ankles, both knees, and my back. Couldn’t use a cane, much less the two I needed, as my shoulders had joined my lower joints on strike. So I wobbled along very, very slowly. I’ve mastered the fine art of tripping over my shadow; falling over was the last thing I wanted, as I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get back up again. (Since I initially wrote this article, I’ve moved to a wheelchair with caregivers doing mostly everything for me. But the attitude still applies!)
I got my share of strange looks. Folks don’t expect that level of non-mobility when they see a cute 30-something standing around. Especially not one with a big grin on her face. I just kept that grin dialed up, nodded and said hi, and hobbled along on my merry way. I’m used to the funny looks by now. (You REALLY get funny looks when you’re a cute *mumblemumble* year old woman in a wheelchair, with a buzz cut, wearing brightly colored clothes that may or may not go together, including mismatched socks)
One older gentleman asked me, in a voice full of concern, if he could help me with anything. “Oh, no sir, thank you….I’m doing great!” He apparently decided I’d taken leave of my senses, as he incredulously asked if I was sure. “Yessir, I’m doing great!”
Now, was I doing great physically? No, of course not. I was in a fair amount of pain and not entirely sure I wasn’t going to fall over.
So did I lie to that helpful old man? Nope. I’d decided that I was great…. so I was.
I accepted the situation, accepted what my body was doing, and accepted that there wasn’t a dang thing i could do about it. That acceptance let me have the self-esteem I needed to be great, despite the physical infirmity I was dealing with.
Attitude is everything, goes the saying. And it’s the absolute truth.
I look at it this way: I could be hobbling around Harris Teeter in pain and being miserable, or I could be hobbling around Harris Teeter in pain and being happy. Either way, I’m hobbling around Harris Teeter in pain. So I choose to be happy. I choose to be great.
Some could look at this situation and call it crazy. “It’s nuts,” they’d say, “thinking you’re doing great when you’re clearly in pain and about to fall down. You should let that old man help you, sit yourself down, and accept reality.” Well, I’m sorry, hypothetical person, but in the words of Mythbusters’ Adam Savage, who was quoting some weird-ass scifi movie from the 80’s, I reject your reality and substitute my own.
I know I’m crazy. I know I’m about to fall over. And I know I’m in pain. But I also know that if I choose to be great, I’m great. If I choose to be happy, I’m happy. That’s what drives my sanity. Knowing the situation. Knowing what’s going on around me. Knowing what’s going on in my head. So yeah, I’m crazy. But I’m also quite sane.