A mummy duck was leading her babies up a river when they came to a small weir. judging it low enough for them to climb she led the way up and over. the first born, larger and stronger than his brethren, followed her without any problems quacking and waggling his superiority. the next few chicklets followed more slowly and with more difficulty, each taking several tries and an equal number of failures before, with supreme effort, they launched themselves into the upriver flow and mother's downy embrace. the last duckling was much smaller and weaker than the others, so when his turn to swim against the tide came he paddled and dabbled, joggled and bobbled but couldn't make the necessary leap. mummy mallard quacked encouragement until finally, reluctantly she turned from her floundering, drowning duckling and swam away. the little fluffball in a total panic raced toward the river bank and scrabbled onto the tow path and RAN past the weir and back into the water, bypassing that impossible barrier entirely, to rejoin his family.
That's pretty much how it is living with a disability, particularly if you live alone. no matter how much pain, stiffness or weariness accompanies waking each morning the ordinary tasks of daily existence eating, washing, feeding the cat have to be accomplished. every moment of every day holds fast flowing rivers to cross and weirs to climb without enough feathers to stay afloat, so we have to haul ourselves out of the water and improvise.
Albert Einstein's apocryphal saying, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result" was clearly learnt young by our little duckie. he would have come to a soggy demise in that river if he hadn't stepped out onto unfamiliar territory and used his feet to walk rather than paddle, it was by going against his inbred nature that he was able to survive.
How, you may be asking, does this birdie allegory apply to an overweight, ageing wheelie? well, unlike our feathery friend i failed the Einstein test during my PIP disability benefits assessment. instead of leaving the comfort zone of cup half full thinking and following the path of the whinge-fest to gain sympathy and points, i shot myself in the foot repeatedly by being Miss Positivity.
I started well. recalling research and the brain picking of advocacy groups i remembered the injunction to "consider your worst days." "qualify everything you can do by explaining what you can't." "don't put on a brave face" etc. etc. etc. eventually, inevitably during a grilling the interrogatee will say anything to make the cross examination end. i now have an insight into why people confess to crimes they haven't committed. but after TWO HOURS of questioning i went onto auto pilot, instinctively putting a favourable spin on the many difficulties of inhabiting a broken body. turning tragedy into comedy, struggle into triumph. tears into laughter.
Did the assessor, who was a lovely girly, see through the bravado? i hope so. if i was given another chance could i maintain the pity me persona? probably not. did i talk myself out of too many valuable and essential points? possibly, only time will tell. one thing i do know for a certainty, i wouldn't want to live permanently with that helpless, pitiable, personality that i was recommended to portray. the body may be dependant on wheels but the mind and spirit are free to fly if we choose the path of humour.