First thing on Monday morning, I spent an hour with my optometrist, deciding on ‘one or two/this one or that one better’ and performing other optical gymnastics so that he could devise the optimum prescription for my new glasses. He’s knowledgeable, thorough, kind, funny. It was a very successful visit.
When I tried to stand to leave, I had to ask him to bring my walking stick from the other side of the small room. And I knew, instantly, that selecting new glasses frames would have to happen some other time. My real task then was walking the 400 metres or so to home.
The lights on the highway changed while I was just over halfway across. A kind driver waited patiently, her face a picture of concern and sympathy. I knew then I wasn’t going to make it without taking a rest.
Serendipitously, a café has recently opened right there, near the traffic lights. It has comfortable chairs, good decaf, efficient staff and isn’t too noisy. If other patrons thought I was strange, semi-reclining in my seat as I sipped the comforting milky drink, I didn’t notice. And after a few minutes, I hauled myself upright, leaning heavily on my stick, and managed the rest of the walk home to bed.
It’s Friday now — the first day I’ve woken feeling like my usual self again. This has been a rough week, with a lot of time spent in bed doing very little.
As I walked in the autumn sunshine this morning, I reflected yet again on how grateful I am to have been developing a mindfulness practice over the past three decades. How grateful I am for Thich Nhat Hanh, that inspirational Buddhist teacher, one of whose mantras is, ‘Breathing in, smile; breathing out, smile’.
Much is written in celebration of recovery, positivity, and return to one’s former or at least fully functioning self after a devastating accident or illness. There’s less useful material on how to spend one’s time if a stroke (or other debilitating illness) leaves one permanently impaired.
I’ve written previously about the value of deep acceptance; mindfulness — living vividly aware of every precious moment, every tiny delight that occurs during the course of an ordinary day — is another invaluable tool in the survivor’s toolkit.
This morning, as I sat at my dining table writing morning pages, a magpie landed on my balcony railing and burst into glorious song, delivering a long series of perfect moments right to my door.
feathered minstrel throat
extended — piebald sun-kissed