On Laziness & Crutches

"Be careful and lazy!" my friend advised. I laughed, because he and I both have a lot going on, always, sometimes collaboratively.

Yesterday, the doctor asked me about pain in my broken ankle. I told him, honestly, that there hadn't been much, and in fact more in the last few days than the whole 5 weeks since I'd been injured.

"Did you do anything differently these past few days?" 

I thought. "I forgot to take ibuprofen." This is true. Throughout my sentence of crutches, I started taking less OTC pain medication to see exactly how much I hurt. I guess that level of pain felt normal, so I forgot to do anything about it. 

I never did tell anyone about the pain in my left elbow. 

The ankle didn't hurt much; the elbow is bearable. I can still do my work, though I have to do it without twisting or flexing. I have to remember not to twist, not to flex. Losing personal freedom is what hurts. I couldn't just get up and go get what I'd forgotten, either across the room or at the market. As soon as I couldn't drive, people showed up and drove me to work. I didn't ask. They questioned my lifestyle. I told them I like it, and they didn't ask again. My lifestyle is quiet in a little house with imperfect seams. Dust comes in, sometimes bugs. Snakes, once. Art and pieces of art are everywhere. "Perfectly creative," somebody once said about somebody else's house in a similar condition.

This made me think about the culture my family gave me: shut up, suck it up, someone will let you know when it's your turn. But my parents were very busy, as all working people are, and they would forget I was waiting for a turn. I knew we couldn't afford a doctor visit, so I'd keep it to myself if I hurt myself - unless I was bleeding, because I'd be busted anyway. 

This made me think about the social media outrage I see about student loan forgiveness, or weapons to Ukraine, or a floating dock for Gaza. Or any form of care package. Why are people so angry about someone else getting relief?

Here's the thing we all forget: They're angry because they were hurt and kept quiet about it.

Yeah, they'll deny it, but they know. At some level, this is the culture some people are protecting; it's the America they want back. Suffer, keep quiet, if you work hard enough you'll succeed. If you don't succeed, you didn't work hard enough. It's a given.

Except it isn't a given. People who cut in line - who probably invented that culture - know full well that you're too tired at the end of the day to hustle. You've become their crutch. They know if they let the grocery stores, the gas stations, the banks keep prices inflated, you'll adjust to survive. The president, any president, didn't do it. Someone says the word "freedom" and you're instantly defensive. Pain and freedom are linked. Don't twist; don't flex. Don't tell anyone you hurt. 

What silent sufferers don't understand is that we crybabies are crying for you, too. Yes, you were stoic. Yes, you survived. It wasn't right or fair. It doesn't have to be normal. It shouldn't be normal. You don't have to compromise your personal freedom to respect the freedom of others. We respect  your pain; you should respect it, too.

You don't have to pass on your suffering to the next generation. New suffering will be invented for them. Let them invent their own.


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