Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Time goes by, the initial shock, terror and horror pass. We come to terms with the fact that by all rights, we should have died that day - over 90% die that day. Then some of us get to come to terms with the joyous but incredible understanding that we had no heart damage and no brain damage - rarity among the rare. We didn't die, our brains and hearts are intact. Again, I think - I will not let this change me. Period. I just won't permit it.
I look back with wonder at how absurd I was. Every one of us who lives through this is utterly, completely changed. I don't have any substantive physical or mental after-effects. Oh, sure, I can't walk through a metal detector, I wonder and worry a little about magnets that seem to have become suddenly ubiquitous. And I was bitter about the ban on scuba diving. But substantively - no physical or mental after-effects.
But nothing is the same. Everything has changed. I don't think there is such a thing as an unchanged SCA survivor. We become seekers - some seek data, some seek a villain to blame, some seek an understanding that will never come, some seek to re-craft our new lives. Pick your poison. Everything is different. I say yes when I used to say no; and I say no when I used to say yes. We are not the same as we were.
I do things I never would have done - ever. I write this blog and I don't care who reads it. I don't care if it's revealing or embarrassing. Five years ago, I never would have considered a public display such as this.
Last weekend I learned how to make paper. I love to write; I love paper and pens and ink. I love fountain pens. I don't make many things; I made a few hundred jobs, I guess. I make some contracts now. But things - I don't make many things. But I made paper for two days. Four years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea. I would have said no to making paper. I am pragmatic by nature - we can buy paper; there is no point to making it. After two days of making paper, I have a few sheets I like and one I love. I don't know exactly what I will do with it, but a fountain pen and some words will be involved.
I made paper. And a man walking down the beach asked me to leave behind my book and walk with him. I said yes. He asked for my number and I said yes. Pre- SCA, I would not have; I would have wanted fingerprints or a mutual friend or some sort of background check, place of employment, license plate - something silly. Now I just say yes.
I say no to things I don't enjoy. Things I would have continued to do out of a sense of obligation. Or out of a desire to avoid feeling guilty. Last year, service on a nonprofit board had become tedious and irritating. Pre-SCA, I would have continued through my term. Not now. I quit mid-term. My self-induced guilt has lost much of its power since the SCA. If it's not fun or meaningful or gratifying or important, I'm out. I received a gift on September 5, 2009 and it's mine to keep.
I say yes when I used to say no. I say no when I used to say yes. SCA changes everything.