[Tripping On…] Efforts Staying Relaxed

I still have to remind myself near-daily that I have to work within my means. As I approach my fifth week since having spine surgery, I am finally starting to feel “normal,” if you will, which my current normal is not feeling nearly incapacitated due to physical constraints. I’m not at the point where I could feasibly run errands – I can barely walk them – so it’s a challenge for me to take life somewhat easier.

I have all these ambitions that are encouraging me to go out.

Yet I know that I am not lazy, rather, I don’t feel well enough to do everything I want to do. I might try to go out to throw out some trash and recycling then drive around to warm up my car, maybe collect my mail from my mailbox. I’m not sure if I want to do that now or after I take my daily two-hour nap. This isn’t something I did prior to spine surgery, but I’ve been needing to nap in the afternoons to keep a consistent schedule. Let’s say I wake up at 6am or 8am. If I don’t take a nap by, say, 1pm, then I’ll feel so exhausted that I’ll go to sleep by around 8pm… but wake up at 11pm. This has happened a few times for me, and were I to stay awake the whole day, I would feel exhausted and sick by around 6pm.

I assume the napping is my body’s way to help recover my spine.

I also had a terrible bout of diarrhea two nights ago. Normally, it wouldn’t be such a big problem for me. Compared to my near-week-long post-surgery constipation, it would have been nice to expel excess excrement with so little effort. However, it was too physically taxing on me. I felt sick for hours before and I didn’t feel much better after. My body is actively trying to heal itself, both in terms of the spine surgery wound and the internal mechanisms that have changed against its knowledge. I’ve imagined during this post-surgery time about how, if we could tell the body about our surgeries, would they behave better post-surgery or cure the problem without needing surgery?

These are idle thoughts that happen when I’m not feeling well.

Although I enjoy writing, this could technically be considered work. I’ve had trouble for years, now, relaxing. I can’t sit with my arms up, my hands resting behind my neck, and enjoy a movie at length. Not just physically, but mentally. My writing calendar has helped significantly in terms of organizing my thoughts so I can dump certain topics into certain essays. Today’s essays are a couple, based around the same duality idea: I want to go out but I also need to stay inside. This dichotomy is perpetuated by living an ambitious life.

I can’t go but I can’t rest… right?

The compromise I’ve come up for myself is indeed staying at home, but rather than being completely unproductive, I’m working within my body’s means. I was thinking of going out this morning to do all that, but when I thought about the many steps it would require for me to leave, I decided to stay. How many of those steps can I streamline now? I can pick the pants I’ll wear, put my wallet in, thread the belt around its loops, and set out the underwear I’ll put on. Using my grabber to pick my socks and place them near my shoes limits the time I would spend finding socks. Doing those efforts now saves me the effort when my body does feel ready to go.

Those efforts may seem trivial but I feel near-constant fatigue.

Were it not for the Spoon theory, I might worry something was wrong with me. Thinking about how others have dealt with chronic fatigue has helped me adjust during these few weeks where I’m vacationing in constant fatigue. I will probably regain my physicality in a few more weeks. It will probably be a few more months before I’m able to do anything exceedingly physical. It’s unfortunate that others cannot say the same thing. I take their lessons with gratitude knowing that if do my best to perpetuate respect and understanding, then maybe we can better accommodate people living in their various situations.

I return to the thought: “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”[1]

If I don’t have much energy now, is there anything I can do to help my future self along toward his goals? There are times when I might look back on events in my life and curse my past-self, but that’s just because I’ve unknowingly been less compassionate or collaborative with my other-selves. If the present-me can’t do much to help the future-me, who is my future-me to judge for the efforts of the now-past-me? When I had that bout of diarrhea, I could do nothing but focus on the present, to get me through the vulgar sensations my body was giving me.

I couldn’t self-actualize when my physicality was in poor shape.

This is the workaholic or “hustle culture” side that is seldom talked about in regards to aspiring toward your dreams and goals. It is easy to train yourself to become more disciplined by steadily increasing the rate at which you do things. Write one essay with no time limit, then try once a week, then a few times a week, then daily, then up the word count, then twice daily, then as often as you can. That sentence summarizes how I got to where I am, in the positive sense of my writing aptitude. In the negative sense, I don’t have an answer on why my spine got to the point it did, necessitating surgery; there might never be an answer. If there’s one thing I can do for myself and others, it’s encouraging us to work vocationally or avocationally toward our goals.

However, we must take care of ourselves first.

Quotes[1] Although this quote seems to be attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, from Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography, the full quote is: “There is a bit of homely philosophy, quoted by Squire Bill Widener, of Widener’s Valley, Virginia, which sums up one’s duty in life: “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.” Funnily enough, I didn’t know this before writing that sentence then doing the research mid-essay. The quote was lodged in my mind subconsciously.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: Thinking about my life at this moment and my efforts both now and going forward.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 October 04 [9:20am to 9:59am]
Last Edited: 2020 October 04 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.