Though I’m sure you haven’t noticed from my earlier blogs, I have a very slight tendency toward egomania. I firmly believe that certain key elements of my emotional development hit a snag somewhere around the age of two and have never advanced beyond that point. I cannot help but believe, in my heart of hearts, that the universe revolves around me…or should. That evidence of that belief is sorely lacking and in fact is overwhelmingly and consistently countered by reality is, as has been the subject of several blogs, the reason I write. If the world won’t conform to what I want it and expect it to be, I’ll create my own world and ignore the real one as much as possible.
I bewail at great length those things which I do not have in the real world, or which I feel have been denied me. I resent, with a blinding intensity, growing older—though the only practical alternative is unthinkable. I resent not being, physically, the same person I was five years ago. I have a part-time job working weekends at a local shopping center, which contains a Bally’s gym, and to watch the endless flow of physically perfect and beautiful young men who are completely unaware of what they have truly often makes my chest ache with longing.
T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” pretty much says it all. “I hear the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think they sing for me.”
And yet, even with all this gnashing of teeth and wailing and moaning and too-frequent plunges into fathomless oceans of self pity, every now and then I am yanked back to reality like a tethered dog which, racing at full tilt, abruptly reaches the end of its leash.
Yesterday, walking down the street with a friend and practicing holding my head as high as I physically can, I noticed that ahead of us was a severely handicapped young man in his late teens or early twenties. And I was instantly yanked back to reality and was deeply and thoroughly ashamed of myself for being so totally absorbed with my own relatively minuscule physical problems.
For me to pity that young man, or anyone with severe physical limitations, would be an insult to them and shame me further. Pity too often covers a conscious or subconscious sense of superiority. My admiration for people who simply deal with what life has given them is boundless. To realize that someone who deals, every moment of their life, with potentially isolating physical and/or emotional restrictions infinitely greater than my own puts my own overblown egocentricism into perspective.
I bewail being my age, until I realize that not one of those beautiful 20-year-olds I see and envy every day knows whether he will be so fortunate as to be given the number of years I have been given.
I cannot raise my head higher than being able to look passers by in the eye, and even then I can’t hold that position for very long. My head is permanently bent forward due to changes in my neck vertebra caused by the effect of the 35 radiation treatments I underwent in 2004 for tongue cancer. But I am alive, and cancer-free and when rationality overcomes emotion I am infinitely, infinitely grateful for those facts.
And, hey, with my head bent forward I can more easily spot pennies lying on the ground. I pick them up, too.
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