Vocation and purpose (illustrated)

I’ve spoken of myself as a writer for ages, and made a decent living writing professionally (about software) for several years — until I got disabled as a consequence of the long hours.

Look a little more closely…

My inward life (narrative, spirit, meaning) and outward life (events, tasks, purpose) have been approaching each other at an increasing rate, and the transparency this creates causes some re-evaluation of publicly-held assumptions like what I am. For instance, is being a writer my core occupation — my “real” job, where “real” means “true, valid, essential”?

It dawned on me that writing, for all its wry, playful and muscular delight, 

is, for me, a means to an end. Here’s why.

I’ve considered myself a writer since I was 10 years old. My mother gave me a blank book to write my poems and stories in, when I was 11 years old — a step up from my plethora of scoliotoc spiral-bound notebooks — so at that point I was clearly committed.

But my earliest coherent memories are of comforting her, of trying to rescue baby birds, of helping to wash and change my baby brother.

So there’s something I’ve been doing longer than writing.

As an adolescent, I probably spent more time rescuing cats, dogs and (more successfully this time) birds than I did putting words down on paper.

Writing is a joy, and it’s a tool. I know I wrote the right thing when someone says, “That really cleared things up for me,” or more transcendently, “This helped me so much.”

I write to heal. First, I wrote to heal myself, but now, it’s a way of doing a bit of good in the world outside my own head.

As I remarked to a friend of mine, some people go into the healing professions because they like the feeling of power it gives them to help others.

(Many of them are very good at their challenging jobs, so I’m not inclined to dis their motivations.)

Some of us go into it because we like to help people find their strength and set themselves free.

I used to enjoy some of that power, though I believe I did a good job of maintaining perspective in the face of the quite extraordinary impact an emergency nurse can have. 

Of course, what I really loved about that job was the scope and depth of challenge, and the instant feedback. Never a dull moment, and I learned a lot.

Now I have lost what taste I had for power over others, even benevolent power. But I have always loved helping people find their strength and watching them set themselves free.

These days, when I think of anything worth doing (after taking care of myself), that’s what it comes back to: helping people find their own strength, and watching them set themselves free.

Writing lets me do that in absentia, while I’m unconscious, perhaps even long after I’m gone. If I do my job well, others will be reminded of their own strength, or find the clue they need to set themselves free.

So, I’m a healer… who writes.

At least I have better dress sense and less disturbing kibitzers than this guy.

I hope it helps.

(revised 12 March 2013, to add images and improve clarity)
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Look on the bright side

I’m losing weight rather quickly. Clinically, this is unfortunate, and I’m not crazy about the bags of skin.

However, it lightens the load on my feet and makes transit-sized seating less harrowing.

For getting about, there’s really nothing more shiny than a narrow heiny.

And now, an automatic word from our communication device…

iPhone. Because, when you can press only 1 button, there is no substitute.

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Healing this disease is supposed to be impossible. In my experience, the word “impossible” is relative.

Some things simply cannot be done: scaling Everest with flippers on your feet, for instance. Scaling Everest in a hot little bikini might be do-able, for all I know, although it hasn’t been done yet. I’ve met one or two people who seemed well suited (so to speak) for the job.

Many things that are widely considered impossible are simply heinously difficult, requiring extra time, diligence, and determination. They may be practically impossible, because most people are not willing to try that hard and can’t imagine that anyone else would be. I’ve met a few of those, too.

When facing the practically impossible, it helps to have a certain blithely F-U attitude, to be willing to flip a bird or two at the forces – or people – that seem to hold me from it. Not to hold resentment, but to detach from their limitations and clarify that they have no hold over me.

It helps to realize that those who tell me it’s impossible are really speaking for themselves, but that doesn’t mean they get to speak for me.

In short, it helps to have that inner steel spring that winds me up beyond any comfort zone and propels my willful butt over the heads of everyone who has failed before they began, and lets me look at them – not with contempt, because that has no place at this height – but with a cheerful bouyancy that holds the possibility that maybe there’s room for them up here, too.

This attitude is springy without being snappish, free-spirited without wasting time in rebellion, wild and fresh with only its own inner guidance for discipline.

It’s impish, in other words.

And this gives us a word we can use to describe things like scaling Everest in a skimpy swimsuit, or inviting cannibals to a linen-dressed tea, or curing CRPS:


I rather like that.

Curing CRPS is imp-possible. Excellent. Bring on the bikinis.

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