Today I did a few tasks that might not seem noteworthy but that absolutely count.
- I rolled a skein of yarn into a ball for a scarf I’m knitting.
- I boiled some sugar water and filled our empty red hummingbird feeder and placed it on the deck.
- I watered four terra cotta pots of wilting pink flowers that need daily nourishment but that I forget to tend to sometimes.
- I registered my Harmon’s Foodie Club card to get a freebie, a tiny task that has been sitting unaccomplished for months, and signed up to get virtual reminders from my car insurance company.
Before my brain injury, all those little tasks in a day might go unnoticed. Only the bigger accomplishments would be worth noting. How many pages did I read that day? How many words did I write? Now, with energy still at a premium, anything I accomplish during the day is worth celebrating.
I did more. I took a nap (in the morning, no less). And I organized the stacks of papers that have been accumulating on my desks. Feeling taxed after a couple of hours of this busyness, I lay down to rest. I find myself writing a blog post instead.
Accomplishing big tasks is fun. Pushing yourself to the limit of your abilities and talents is exhilarating. Although doing work can lead to intense emotional stress, burnout, and exhaustion, it’s much more exhilarating, stimulating, and fulfilling to be able to work than to not. Not working, or not working at full capacity, is not fun.
Since my injury, energy limitations and the daily head and body pain + emotional overwhelm quotient have made it impossible for me to work consistently. I get up and do, and fall back down to rest. I take on too much and have to scale back. I try to balance my healing tasks/therapies/appointments with the kinds of work I love, but my injury also stole my motivation. I wonder if I even care about the sorts of things I used to. That’s a low-energy brain state. When I’m rested, I can rally again. But I’m always having to figure out where I am each day. I’m not in the usual flow of things, which is itself quite taxing.
Being an intellectually motivated person, not being able to read and think as much as I want (a key part of my occupation as a writer) has been extremely boring. I continually try to build my stamina, and speech therapy this year has been helping me do that. But I still can’t read very much before my focus starts to fade out and my head starts to hurt and I feel like I’m squinting at my book or a piece of literature through wavy antique glass, struggling to catch the meaning, struggling to get it to stick in my brain.
I just want to say to myself, don’t give up. Everything you do counts. Even writing this blog post that’s not your finest intellectual product counts. You don’t have to be at 100% to be valuable as a person, or to find value in the things that you do. Keep plugging away. Keep filling those hummingbird feeders. Keep rolling those balls of yarn. Look how much more you can do than you used to be able to do. You’re doing great.