When I rolled off the little stage at Mountain View City Hall a couple of days ago my fall must be measured in more than inches. As must my tumble out of the wheelchair and its unsightly forehead skinning. In rolling away from the lectern, as it were, I had this brief sense that perhaps all was redeemed. Yes I had been shot. Paralyzed for 45 years. Missed out on a thing or two. Spent my life abnormally rooted, tethered and confined. But now, it seemed, perhaps not for nothing. For in this brief instant I had gotten to hold forth, be the authority…until it all transmuted into lying helpless on a carpet…in front of the very audience I had hoped to impress. Leaving me, what?
Well, this morning very angry. After the Fall reminding me of who I am, what I have lost and how things are. Now not only paralyzed but aging. Limited possibilities becoming more so. And what is one to extract from this experience?
A reassessment. I do have it, this need to be recognized, to be thought an authority. And, okay, well there’s nothing inherently wrong with this…there may be something about it that is wrong for me. In short, an opportunity to reconsider and reconnect with what is important. After all, the current culture is steeped in the notion of celebrity. There is no escaping it. And there is something compensatory about wanting to be ‘star’ of a gun control forum. Or of anything. As though such attention is there to make up for my basic sense of being ignored. Or, to be more precise, of being worthy of being ignored. I.e., neglected.
Which is why the whole experience needs reconsideration. For if one has more of a sense of being sufficient, can let go of at least some of the thirst for public recognition…. Why get involved with a cause like gun control? What is the real reward?
A general sense of community. The personal experience of turning personal loss into something else. Some lessons learned, lessons that can be shared…which also means reworked as one learns from others. The chance to pool life knowledge. Teamwork.
In short, many of the very experiences missing in the life of a writer or retired person. And it was dawning on me, all of this, as I made my way on Sunday toward the Council Chambers exit. Only thing, these sentiments vied with the ham in me. And the fall has certainly tipped the scale. Forced me to think about what I really want, what I really need, what nurtures the soul.
And that is the thing about being permanently wounded by life. There is something in you that’s always in need of being opened, drained and healed. Requiring low-grade, though constant, attention. And the scale metaphor is apt. Of ensuring that the balance is in the right direction, toward inclusion, effectiveness and commitment. And from this perspective, what of substance is lost by having a fall in front of people?