When a blog topples in the forest and no one hears it…has it fallen? And if it has, how do we know it? Or more to the point, who can say that this adapted Zen riddle isn’t fake news?
My excuse is that I have been working on a book. Which is only slightly better than claiming to have been abducted by aliens. Actually, I might prefer the aliens. This book itself has become alien, so long has it been in process. Tote that barge, lift that bail.
I had a sleepless night. Jane is gone, leaving me to my thoughts and fears. My sister was here, doing what I call babysitting but she assures me must be called something else. Whatever it is, the underlying truth is simple enough. I feel safer when there is someone else in the house at night. I also feel angrier, simply knowing that this is now reality. I have an increasingly difficult time simply getting out of bed.
Note that I do have a workaround. Rope. A knotted cord tied to one of the legs of the bed is within handy reach. I wake up, haul myself 90° to face the edge of the mattress. Then I keep hauling which pulls me into the sedentary. Then I stand.
My sister looked at this arrangement and asked a logical question. Isn’t there a better way to do this? Doubtless, but this is the simplest way to do it. It’s adaptable, uses minimal equipment and is the sort of technique one can take on the road. It works fine for travel. Anyway, that’s my excuse.
Still, anxiety being what it is, when I am alone my trust in this approach quickly fades. Can I in fact get out of bed? What will the morning bring?
So the rosy fingered dawn begins to creep through the open window and, yes, I do get myself sitting and up and into the wheelchair. With a certain degree of relief. I made it. All is well. After which, there is only one logical next step. Caffeine. There is a kettle just outside the bedroom, and that is where I head. In my mind, the water is already starting to boil…when something interrupts my thoughts.
I am going nowhere fast. Which doesn’t make sense until I look down. There is no carpet rolling under my feet, as it were. My wheels are turning. But the bed is turning. The bed is trying to follow me. At a very early hour of the morning, this feels the height of paranoia, or maybe paranormal. A few deep breaths, hitting the wheelchair control to move backward…and reality is revealed.
It is the rope. The same piece of cord that had just hauled me out of bed and was then absentmindedly dropped to the carpet. One of the small rear wheelchair tires has scooped up the cord and wrapped it around its axle. I am tangled in the very rope that was supposed to save me. I have been, as the metaphor describes, given enough rope to hang myself. Or at least enough to entangle myself in a most dire way.
Which puts me to a life test. Is there a way out of this? Unfortunately, much of me does not believe there is. On one occasion my wheelchair picked up a loose throw rug in a shop in Palo Alto and got so badly tangled in decorator textile that an assistant had to cut me free with a knife.
At this moment I do not have a knife. I do not have a shop assistant. I barely have a mind, much of it having been seized by visions of entrapment mixed with a soupçon of fear. In other words, I am fucked. Until I reverse course, keeping an eye on the tension in the cord. Back and forth. Until, incredibly, the tension dissipates and I roll free. Aware that my existence hangs by a thread or a rope or a wing or a prayer, and the tensile strength of any of these is approximately the same. And whatever my life hangs from is unimportant, as long as it hangs.