We have to work slowly for our small successes, so that the rest of our lives can be fulfilling.
Imagine a billion marbles scattered all over the floor.
It’s your job to pick them all up. Sometimes, isn’t that the way your day feels? Full of impossible tasks, huge demands, with no free time just to stand and stare. Then, let’s imagine that each of those marbles represents an entire year, so the accumulated amount of time they stand for equals how long it took for our universe to take its form. Since the spark that set off the big bang, so very long ago. Consider all the things that have happened since that moment. Every sunrise, every sunset. Every breath, every tear, every kiss.
Grains of sand slip slowly through the cracks.
You can sit in a sunlit window, staring at the trees, but you can’t see them growing. Babies turn into toddlers, then they begin to run, they grow into adults. Experience builds within all of us, over days, weeks, months, years. Decades pass by. Our lives advance, the earth spins. Quickly now. The modern world encourages us to travel quickly, to rush ahead, to move ever faster. There are races at the track, they run 100 metres in 9 seconds flat. I’ve seen them. They leave me breathless.
I can’t keep up, and it’s not just because I have amputated feet.
Sepsis affected my brain too. Now I find it hard to process information quickly and to react with lightning speed, which is so often required in this society of ours. Sometimes, I’m just really slow. In fact, on occasion I deliberately choose to take my time. For example, when I walk on my false legs, I know I’m just going to cut the grafted skin on my stumps, if I try and go fast. And if I try to clear the dishes from the dining table quickly using my myoelectric hands, I know I’m going to smash the crockery.
So there it is – I’m officially slow.
But really, that’s OK. I have plenty of time these days, and the plain truth is, I still have some important mental health issues I’m dealing with. So it’s great not to be in a hurry or to be up against deadlines to perform. If I’m going to respond resiliently to the daily challenges of living as a sepsis survivor, I need to take control of the schedule. I need the freedom to devote time to solving my problems. Coming back from a setback like I had just can’t be rushed. 18 years on, I’m still dealing with the fallout.
Every night, I start going to bed at 8pm.
It’s a process. First, I go round the house, locking all the doors. Next, I plug my phone in to re-charge, then I find a glass and I fill it with water. Slowly, I climb the stairs. I leave the water by my bedside, I go into the bathroom, I brush my teeth. I take my time over these things, otherwise I fall over. I plug in my artificial arms to get the power I need for tomorrow. My point is, in this simple routine, lies the kernel of my resilience. It’s about planning. Forward thinking. Becoming a master of time. Because stuff doesn’t just happen – you have to manage it.
5 Things I’m Glad I Waited For
- My beautiful wife, Nic. I am the luckiest man in the world.
- Starfish the film – it took 10 years but wow, what a movie.
- That long haul from London to Sydney to see my late brother Adam.
- Leicester City winning the Premier League – it could take another 125 years before that happens again.
- Coming home to my family after 8 months in hospital.