Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

February 9, 2014

Measuring Cups, Moguls, Apples and Oranges

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 11:56 am

I can remember sitting in class in high school, seemingly a lifetime ago, and hearing my teacher talk about how we needed to learn the Metric System because our country was planning on switching over and naming the Metric System our designated, official system of measure.  It was a big deal back then, I recall, with many in an uproar that we would change, so significantly, the way we measure.

I watched the Olympics last night and saw American Hannah Kearney take the bronze in what was, for her, a cutting disappointment after her gold medal four years ago.

I saw that little flub they spoke of.  I saw her knees come apart as the hills gauged her and stole her dream finish in that split-second.

To the world, we marveled at her ability.  Wow!  To tackle those moguls and to flip and flip backwards, to land, to maneuver.

But, for her, it was a performance that disappointed, didn’t measure up, brought her to tears.

It’s funny what we remember about things…

I can vividly recall being in 9th grade swim class, standing there self-consciously with my arms crossed, trying to cover my belly.

I weighed 119 pounds at the time.  I could run a mile in under 7 minutes and I could bench-press 150 pounds.  I had teardrop muscles for thighs and I was all taught and hard and the strongest I had ever been.

There wasn’t a belly to be ashamed of.

Too often we grab measuring spoons and cups that simply no longer serve us.  No longer are valid.  No longer matter.

We turn a deaf ear to the overwhelming roar of the else, the everyone else.  We are so determined to find where we don’t measure up.  Where we disappoint.

Our ears are too big, our boobs are too small, our bellies too big, our penises too small, our chins too big, our bank accounts too small, our this and our that.  Always seemingly too….something.

It seems to me that we needn’t worry so much about what we measure with, which system we choose, but, rather, the things we measure them against. 

And maybe the everyone else should have a voice, a listen…

I hope one day that Hanna Kearney realizes what an outstanding, top-tier Olympic athlete she has been.  Wow, what an accomplishment.  To toe the podium in two consecutive Olympics.  That is truly a remarkable feat.

And the rest of us?

Do you think I should feel shame that my body is no longer as trim and muscled as it was when I was 15?  Do you think that we should waste one more moment lamenting how we no longer are as good as we once were?

It’s time to re-assess what we are comparing.

Too many of us after brain injury spend months, years, even the rest of our lives, comparing our abilities to those without brain injury,  even (and most nonsensically) ourselves before we were hurt.

We all do it.  We’ve all done it. 

And we’re all simply mistaken.

We have to allow ourselves to be right here, today.  To be who we are and make something great of that.  To know that we aren’t supposed to be younger or older or this or that.  That we are supposed to live today.  With all of the abilities, opportunities and choices available to us right now.  Right here.  This moment.

It doesn’t matter what we were twenty years ago, in as much as we compare today.  It doesn’t matter what we made, what we weighed, how we had this or did that.  All that matters is what we have now and how we bend that to sculpt a tomorrow we want.

Let’s not compare our skiing to a two-time medal winner in the Olympics.  Let’s not compare things that are not fair, not logical.

They are apples and oranges and apples and oranges are for eating, for treating, for painting of and for nourishing us.

Let’s nourish us.

Let’s take every day and see how light it travels without all of yesterday’s expectations and disappointments.  Let’s just take this day and see what we make of it.  Maybe we will get thinner today.  Maybe we will get stronger today. Maybe we will be sober again today.

But maybe we will get fatter today.  And maybe our health will deteriorate today.  And maybe we will fall off the wagon.

And then let’s try again tomorrow.

We don’t have to carry everything with us.  We don’t have to shoulder everything, a lifetime of how we failed to measure up.

Why don’t we just take today and enjoy the heck out of it.  No hurries, no worries. See if we can’t take the opportunities and abilities at our disposal and do something that makes us feel good.  Feel valid.  Feel happy.  Feel loved.  Feel accomplished.

We aren’t supposed to be what we were back then.  Not in high school.  Not in college.  Not before our injuries. 

We are what we are supposed to be right now.  The trick is to make something delicious when maybe we don’t have all the ingredients we thought we had or forgot to pick up or finished the rest of last time we cooked.

Let’s make something wonderful, anyhow.  Just today.  The best of today.  Let’s not worry about how it was before or how it might have been.  Let’s not even fuss about how it might be the next time.  Let’s just enjoy how we make it today.  Let’s feel light in the knowing that we are exactly where we are supposed to be and we are just plain flippin’ fabulous here.

In the now.  In today.  In this glorious moment.



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