Coping with Change: Slowing Down
By coincidence, I’m writing this at 2am unable to sleep. The reason being is that I went to physiotherapy today, did a load of exercise, walked a tonne, got haircut and then passed out for five hours. I’m not in any way angry with myself about this though.
I recently picked up the Complete Stories of Kafka from a bookstore, to properly read through his work for the first time. I’ve read a large portion of his work before, of which the most famous is surely The Metamorphosis.
It’s a tale famous mostly for it’s absurdity; a man awakens to find himself transformed into an unspeakable creature, closely resembling a gigantic insect.
What is less known and maybe is less obvious, is the black humour of the tale. Gregor Samsa’s body is unrecognisable, but he makes the bold decision to pull himself out of his bed and aims to prepare himself for a hard days work as a travelling salesman.
His thoughts become farcical as he begins to sideline his newly acquired condition, in favour of getting things done. Kafka apparently laughed throughout telling his tales to his friends, and this particular moment I’ve always found hilarious; Samsa’s appearance now terrifies his family and his boss, but he really just wants to carry on.
Rereading it now scares me as to how much I see myself in the tale.
I’ve not transformed into any sort of bug (yet), but my situation isn’t too far away from Samsa’s. At work I’m way more driven than I ever have been, and I’m trying my best to get into projects outside of work to better myself and the world around me (such as this one).
But the fact of the matter is I have a disease that means I sometimes have to stop and let things come to a screeching halt for a while.
Occasionally I’ll find myself in a ridiculous situation that I try to ignore. Usually it’s that I’m walking with someone and I try to keep pace with them. If you walk with me for more than five minutes, I’m going to get tired. In the past I’ve tried to push my body, but the more I spend time with MS the more I know I really have a limit. Of course, I’m not happy with the limit, and I’m working to slowly increase what I’m capable of. But for the time being I need to accept my current status.
If I get tired, I need to stop, pull out my phone and chat with some people for a minute, or read the book I’m inevitably carrying. In the short term this is really frustrating, but I know it’s for the good of myself in the long term.
MS has done some strange to my mind. I’m a far harder worker than before I started to feel the symptoms. Maybe it’s just getting older, and not being satisfied with things in life, combined with the diagnosis, which means that I give 110% in everything I do. But I realise now that you really need to take time out every now and then to get the best results.