Yesterday, the drawers in my old file cabinet locked. We’ve never had a key and never locked it. I enjoy and am used to fixing things around the house, but after two hours of putzing, smashing and removing the old lock, and breaking the thin closet door next to the cabinet, I gave up. Only then did I recognize that the file drawers had never been locked in the first place; I just hadn't noticed the latch! This is one of a number of thing in the past few months that I haven’t been able to do, several times breaking something in the process. It should have, but hadn’t, occurred to me that I would be losing that skill, that joy, too. It’s a disease of constant losses.
In all of this, of course, lies the opportunity for spiritual growth, to find rest and gratitude within the suffering. I’m doing okay with it, I think. I don’t get too frustrated with myself, I don’t blame myself, or feel guilty. I understand that this is just what I’ve been given at this time in my life, and the task (and adventure) is to make peace with it. And to a great degree I seem to be able to … at least for the time being.
As the disease progresses, I keep thinking that I’m going to feel differently, experience myself somehow as a different person. But so far that doesn’t seem to be true. Yes, my limitations are becoming more and more noticeable. Yes, they are affecting my life practically. So I am different, but I am not different … if that makes any sense to you. It seems contrary to the Buddhist notion of “not-self.” I recognize that I’m different intellectually, but the difference doesn’t seem to be in my self. It’s almost as if I’d lost an arm: It’s obviously gone; I can’t do what I used to do, but there’s something within me left unchanged. “Illusion,” I suspect the Buddhists would say. But it is certainly my experience at this point.