Foot tapping, blood pressure rising, head pounding, eye pressure so intense I was sure they would pop out of my head, I sat at the adjustable OT table taking a test designed to determine the areas in which I was still having difficulty after my concussion. The test was frustrating enough. Typing in the wrong combination of numbers over and over and getting no response for, what seemed to me to be, a simple task, desperately tamping down tears before asking for help, only to find the “careful scanning” I had been doing was off and the numbers I was typing in were wrong. The moment I did it correctly I was able to progress. Next up, a maddening trip to the virtual grocery store where I had to organize my list and find the fastest route. My direct path looked more like a confused labyrinth. All the while, for each new task, I would be interrupted by “calls,” directions, lists to remember, or “conversations.” It was overwhelming, exhausting, and my head hurt for the next two days after only about an hour’s worth of work. It is wearying dealing with constant interruptions with a healthy brain but a with a damaged one it is infinitely harder.
Interruptions are like weeds. It doesn’t matter how often you pull them out, they just keep coming. If you aren’t persistently, proactively, and perpetually pulling them out, you’ll find yourself overrun. The challenge is then to not let the weeds take over the work. When the focus shifts from staining the fence to doing battle with an army of creepers, you’re liable to lose your sponge and brush in the tangle, right along with the foundational blocks which have already begun to crumble from their encroachment. So again, how do we prevent our losing sight of the work while still protecting our investment? The solution, I think, is to stop being reactionary. Life will always throw you curve balls, some of which you will dodge, other which will hit you, some may even knock you out for a while. But, if you always keep your eyes on the goal, weeding while you work, enlisting the help you need to move forward, you can spend less time in the dirt and more time on the fence.
Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Usain Bolt isn’t busy focusing on the spectators, announcers, or other runners as he speeds past to victory, he’s focused on the finish line. He worries about the distractions in practice with his eyes always toward the race. That’s what I have to remember. Because I’m struggling with organizational, reaction time, processing, and memory issues now, it’s easy for me to lose focus. I walk away in the middle of things, burn food, leave the oven on, forget what I was saying as quickly as I begin to say it. I forgot to take my little girl to the concert she had been practicing for all spring the other day. She was very kind about the whole thing, but I felt like a failure as a parent. I had always been the organizer, that was my strong suit. I’m the bookkeeper, in the early years, I was the accountant too. I manage the schedules and appointments of everyone in the house. Drive everyone where they need to go and pick them back up when they are done. I teach and prepare lessons always with an eye toward current events to make them relevant and engaging. For the last year, however, kudzu has taken over my world. You’d think not being able to drive or go to work would make it easier, but it doesn’t because now there are even more appointments and things to manage and I don’t have the means to do them for myself. Not only do I have to rely on others, but I also have to plan ahead to rely on others. This has been a rude awakening for me. If it weren’t for iPhone reminders, three calendars, a husband and three teen and tween kids to pick up the slack, I’d be lost. Even still, I forgot her concert. I forgot the work because of the weeds.
I’ve had to make my life’s garden a little smaller in the last year, give plots away for others to care for, leave other parcels fallow, to keep my eyes on the fence. This new reality might not be what I would have chosen but, for now, I can do my best to produce a spectacular stain job on the cedar.