Friday, June 27, 2008

Short Versions

My ninety year old mother loves to tell stories about her day.  Mostly, I just settle in and let them unfold, but sometimes there are just things to do, places to be, shoes to be put on and coats to be buttoned up.  

So you gotta say, "Can you just give me the short version today?"
Well, she gives you this look and shoots back, "No I can't.  I don't remember how to do short versions any more."

Of course, we all grow into becoming our parents, and I know I am getting less and less good at short versions.  And that's just part of what you swore you would never do--turn into your mother.  But I'm also learning that short versions always suit the active and the well far better than they suit those of us trying to make sense of all the changes we live with.  It's like the world has become a sort of white rabbit--always I'm late, I'm late, I'm late for a very important date no time to say hello goodbye.  I'm late, I'm late, I'm late. 

Which is terribly ironic when you, yourself, are the one who knows you are running out of time.  You'd think it would be the terribly ill who would want to jam in the essential details and let the frills go. Just get to the short version.

Trouble is, it seems to me that what others call the  extras  have actually become the place where important ideas, insights, worries and fears actually hang out.  I know there are places I have to try harder to be efficient in describing symptoms, giving signals about whether I need to see a nurse today or not, letting someone know if I need something picked up at the grocery store.  But I can also see how that effort comes at the cost of other ways of living I am starting to really enjoy.

Those of you who know me personally know that I have been an academic all my life, and I love nothing more than a good theory--so I'm going to muse about some of this stuff from time to time.  My current best helper when I want to dig down and find out what that burr under my saddle actually is (sorry, but Calgary Stampede is coming up, and such metaphors have a life like c-difficile.  In 2 weeks I promise not to talk like that for another year).  Anyhow, my good thinking friend is Arthur Frank.

But for now, I have to do a mother thing and go back to the main story line I sort of abandoned. Some people have been asking for more info on what's being going on since I got home from the hospital, and how come I'm still having troubles.  Suits me to keep a bit of the plot line intact along with musings about what it all might mean. 

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