Fettered by Dysfunction
By WILLIAM PRENTISS
My mind is a merciless jailor, more so than my motionless frame. I haven’t moved a leg, limb or eyelash for two years; my thoughts hold more of me hostage than does my inert body.
I finally admit, though only to myself and God, the only two people who can hear me think, my greatest limitations are not a product of the senseless beating I took, but are a result of an undisciplined mind long detained by itself. Upon reflection, which is all I can do anymore, I have always been different on the inside than the outside, maybe everybody is.
My gregariousness, often a façade, a magnificent charade, began to slowly wither as time’s steady throb and a lifetime’s accumulation of self-generated dysfunction extinguished my ability to fool folks and myself in thinking that things were just fine. They weren’t; I wasn’t; I’m not.
Nope, can’t blame those folks who put me in a coma for a lifetime of detrimental inner dialogue, nor can I blame anybody for my enslavement in an unseen-by-most world of whirling thoughts intent on my destruction.
Truth be thought, I’ve barely been surviving since long before my survival was questioned. I am not all here now and now realize I haven’t always been here at all, wherever here is. Surviving may be the last refuge of the wounded, but too long in survival mode seems to produce an inability to do more than that even when it’s possible.
I was always running to something, away from something, at something, near something, always avoiding the present, lost in the past and deeply afraid of the future. That’s surviving for the dysfunctional, but is it really? That’s my point.
Tolstoy challenged me today, more than most days. He split the hair. Sis read, “Illness should be viewed as a natural condition of life.” That quote would have pissed me off years ago, particularly if sick when I heard it. Now, not so much. I understand sickness better being unable to move or communicate with anybody but God.
Old Leo T. was not through with me yet. He also quoted Marcus Tullius Cicero, “Illnesses of the mind are much more dangerous than illnesses of the body.” I know this for a fact! Though much more at peace in a coma-like state than I really ever was when laden with mobility, I still struggle mightily with an undisciplined mind.
I can’t run around like a squawking chicken sans head anymore trying to bleed off the pressure of bubbling dysfunction, so I have to deal with myself. It ain’t easy, but in a state of abject torpor I am more likely to talk to God, who is anxious to talk to me.
Tolstoy wrote that illness should not stop people from doing what they ought to do and if they can’t work then they should give their love to others. “Do not be afraid of illness, and do not think that being ill frees you from your moral requirements.” Whew!
One might think I should be absolved from any requirements, as I can only think, hear and pray. Hmmm, sounds like a pretty great commission to me. Lord, loose the fetters in whatever way You see fit. Please strengthen what remains and let me do what I can for others if it is but to ask You to bless them.
MORNINGS WITH TOLSTOY consists of the inner reflections of a man in a coma, the victim of a senseless beating. He can only hear, and no one knows this, but maybe his sister. Sis reads three devotional pieces daily and the internal dialogue reflects his response to them.