Tuesday, February 08, 2005

"I Am Not Broken"

I run a second-hand book sale at the local Unitarian Society, and an acquaintance there suffered a nasty accident at the beginning of autumn, which involved a collapsing folding chair and cost him the tip of his index finger. Since he plays guitar, this was especially unfortunate. I have never been especially close to this guy, who tends to be a bit self-dramatizing and has (I have always thought) a faintly disagreeable way of making events and stories turn into his story. Nevertheless I felt very bad for him, and asked how he was doing and commiserated with him whenever I saw him.

Things come around, and a few months later I found out that I had prostate cancer. Unitarians are a very caring (not to mention loquacious) bunch, and while I was in the hospital people were calling up my wife and telling her that they would bring supper that evening. This was very welcome, and I didn't mind (or evince surprise) that word had gotten around. The next time I saw this guy, he came up and gave me a hug.

We spoke during my most recent sale, and I asked him how he was doing. He told me about a support group he goes to, for people who have suffered some kind of injury from which they shall not fully recover. One of the things they say there, he reported, is: "I am not broken." He seemed to take some comfort in this, and thought that I might.

I agreed it was an interesting thought, but said that for my own part, I am definitely broken. "But I still work," I added.

He seemed startled by this, and I could see him trying the thought out. I am broken, but I still work. I'm not sure whether he decided to go with that message instead.

Interesting how we can be moved by phrases that possess rhetorical power. Say it figuratively or with great concision, and it sounds true.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like that. Takes a while to work though the implications and resonances, which makes me like it the more.


6:45 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I like your version.

I have a friend who has survived two bouts of breast cancer--one twenty years ago, the other last year--with grace and humor. Part of her way of coping has been through affirmations of all sorts; she has them on Post-Its all through the house, her conversation and emails are filled with them, and they appear to have some real benefit for her. I can see the virtue in them for her, but they tend to put me off, like bumper stickers for the soul. I wonder, if or when I have some big medical battle to fight, if my feelings will change. It's a little like religious faith: I've always rather admired people who could hold to a particular creed, but have no sense that I could do it myself.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

I'm having a medium medical fight, and Mad, the affirmations still feel phoney and un-nuanced to me. I like Greg's version better. It feels positive without feeling untrue.

6:55 AM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

There is a certain defiance in resolving not to allow any drop in standards, isn't there?

I occasionally feel, in someone's well-meaning remark, a pressure to acknowledge that in light of what has happened to me, adages like "Take it one day at a time" perhaps seem a little wiser now, or that a brush with mortal illness really "puts it all into perspective."

Well, I'm currently writing a novel that will take a few years to finish; and how should my perspective on life have changed? My perspective always acknowledged that individuals can be suddenly stricken. I didn't think it would happen to me, but at 49, that was a reasonable assumption.

So no, I don't think this has changed my world view -- certainly not into something reducible to a homey aphorism.

8:29 AM  
Blogger claire said...

"I am broken but I still work"

I think I have found my new mantra. While I am not currently dealing with medical emergencies the last six months have been challenging and I think that this phrase is something that can help. Thanks.

And yes, I am rather fond of UUs...


9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(...posting as LauraJMixon...)

That's quite good.


12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have never been especially close to this guy, who tends to be a bit self-dramatizing and has (I have always thought) a faintly disagreeable way of making events and stories turn into his story."

6:46 AM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

Yeah, I said that. Nu?

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of the louis vuitton bags
the YYZ zippers, key set, and assumption lock. Such websites appear with assorted collections of louis handbags
. The Damier Azur
in the apple of appearance has dethroned and baffled the originals. Be it Damier Canvas
are cardinal everywhere.

5:10 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

tiffany and co, louis vuitton outlet, louis vuitton outlet, oakley sunglasses cheap, louboutin, cheap uggs, burberry outlet, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton outlet stores, ugg boots clearance, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton handbags, air max, jordan shoes, nike shoes, uggs, longchamp outlet, ugg outlet, prada outlet, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet, uggs outlet, louboutin shoes, oakley sunglasses, louboutin outlet, rolex watches, michael kors outlet, louis vuitton, ray ban sunglasses, burberry outlet, longchamp handbags, polo ralph lauren, oakley sunglasses, prada handbags, longchamp handbags, nike free, christian louboutin, tiffany and co, air max, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet online sale, tory burch outlet, replica watches, gucci outlet, michael kors outlet

5:36 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

true religion jeans, polo lacoste, vanessa bruno, hogan outlet, sac longchamp pas cher, michael kors uk, new balance pas cher, air max pas cher, north face, coach outlet, vans pas cher, coach outlet store online, oakley pas cher, longchamp, nike tn, louboutin, nike roshe run pas cher, ray ban sunglasses, coach purses, kate spade outlet, chanel handbags, true religion outlet, sac burberry, true religion outlet, michael kors, mulberry, nike blazer, true religion jeans, hollister, michael kors pas cher, timberland, coach factory outlet, air max, hollister, air jordan, polo ralph lauren, sac guess, ray ban pas cher, nike air force, kate spade handbags, converse pas cher, north face, nike free pas cher, sac hermes, lululemon outlet online

5:40 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

juicy couture, pandora charms, ugg, wedding dresses, michael kors handbags, pandora charms, ugg, ralph lauren, abercrombie, louboutin, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, juicy couture outlet, montre homme, swarovski crystal, vans, hollister, louis vuitton uk, pandora jewelry, karen millen, sac louis vuitton, oakley, michael kors outlet, rolex watches, ray ban, swarovski, sac lancel, coach outlet store online, ugg boots, links of london, ugg, marc jacobs, ugg pas cher, air max, converse, doke gabbana, supra shoes, toms shoes, gucci, michael kors outlet online, converse shoes, louis vuitton, sac louis vuitton

5:43 PM  
Blogger oakleyses said...

soccer shoes, timberland boots, hollister clothing store, nike trainers, mac cosmetics, valentino shoes, nike roshe, abercrombie and fitch, jimmy choo outlet, air max, abercrombie and fitch, air max, asics running shoes, nike air max, babyliss pro, lululemon outlet, longchamp, soccer jerseys, reebok outlet, bottega veneta, wedding dresses, chi flat iron, ferragamo shoes, new balance shoes, birkin bag, mcm handbags, iphone cases, p90x, north face outlet, vans shoes, hollister, nike huaraches, beats by dre, nike roshe run, mont blanc, insanity workout, giuseppe zanotti, herve leger, celine handbags, ralph lauren, ghd, baseball bats, instyler, nike free, north face jackets, nfl jerseys

5:45 PM  
Blogger Pansys Silvaz said...

chrome hearts outlet
michael kors outlet
golden state warriors jerseys
polo ralph lauren
ralph lauren polo shirts
givenchy jewelry
thunder jerseys
oakley sunglasses
nike factory outlet
nike store

11:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home