When You Can’t Walk Away











3pm winter shadows gold and shining, slide across the wall.

The afternoon, clinging to the light for happiness. Being alive is sometimes glorious. Desperate. Unforgiving.

This week, UK cabinet ministers have been resigning over the proposed Brexit deal. There has been drama at Westminster, all kinds of rumours about plots against the Prime Minister, politicians taking a stand and quitting their posts ‘on principle’.

So much for all that.

What I’m left thinking is, how ordinary folk living difficult lives don’t have the luxury of seeing things in black and white and throwing in the towel, when the going gets tough.

In real life, our responsibilities and commitments tether us, and they’re not easy to set aside, even on principle. We commit ourselves and stay committed to unsatisfactory jobs, and imperfect relationships. We ride the waves, the ups and downs, we weather the storms, we carry on regardless.

To improve our situation in adversity, we try to make subtle, small changes.

We’re creative. Just now, I’m having to work extra hours in the call centre, and the exposed bone at the end of my right amputated arm is extremely painful because I’m typing so much. So, I’ve got hold of a lighter weight prosthetic arm with a special typing attachment to lighten the load and to reduce the pain during those longer shifts. I’m taking care of myself, and I’ve made an appointment with the doctor to check this is OK. I’m adjusting in a small but important way.

I’m always looking for small improvements that can make me feel better about my situation. I suppose it’s about recognising and taking action on the small things that are within my power to change.

Little steps.

At first when I was in hospital for such a long time after sepsis, it was the very simple joy of being able to sit outside in the fresh air, under a tree, and to feel the breeze against the skin of my reconstructed face. That was heavenly.

Later, when I had learned to drive again with prosthetic arms and legs, it was the incredible feeling of pride I got from being able to take my children to and from school as an independent parent.

Now, I can work proper long shifts and although I’d rather be doing something more suited to my skills (writing!), this is truly an achievement, when I think of how sepsis came so close to killing me, and the state I was in when I woke from my four-month coma.

But part of dealing with my situation is accepting it.

That’s where resilience starts. Seeing the reality and not being too ambitious. Working within my limitations. And in that important sense, there are some times when no matter how brave and resilient I try to be, I can’t walk away from my disability or the disadvantages that it brings.

I have to accept that there are problems.

I’m not like the Prime Minister or those cabinet politicians trying to fix Brexit. I can’t throw in the towel.

I can’t walk away and I don’t want to.

There’s so much that is wonderful in the world around us. So much to live for, in the light, and even in the darkness. I’d never walk away from any of the experiences I’ve had or from this colourful, raw existence.

Not while I have this wonderful family around me. My best friend, my wife, and my fearless children. And not while I’m part of this rich kaleidoscope of a world full of sunshine, music, art and wildlife. And football!

Not while there is love to fight for.