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Friday
Dec022011

Two Arms

I fell on a slippery slope at a church camp and whacked my poor old bod. The bruise on my thigh was as black as coffee, and in the words of Benjamin looked "scary." But the more pressing concern was the damage to my left forearm. I do not score highly in the intelligence Gardner describes as bodily-kinesthetic but I was certain I should not move it. The improvised sling helped insure that, and I spent the next few days learning to live with one arm. 

What struck me first was the people around me who so casually maneuvered two hands. They lifted, grabbed, hugged, clapped, ate, played guitar and carried things easily. The cooperation of two limbs had never seemed so miraculous to me as it did now. The once simple task of holding a plate and filling it with food now took serious planning. Sweeping at chore time was sloppy. Playing for worship was impossible. I tugged out a foot of floss and soon realized I didn't have the strength to keep it taut.
 
Then I gradually started to figure out ways to still help in the kitchen, and dress. It took attention but I didn't want to simply give up. My right arm did double duty, and I learned how to hold gently with my left hand without actually putting pressure on the arm. 
 
The cooperation of two limbs reminds me of marriage. Working in unison while getting dinner on the table, or paying the bills makes it all much easier. But I know that in our relationship things are often unevenly distributed. John's paycheck is three times what mine is. I spent more time holding babies. I can feel resentful of that inequity, or I can learn to work with it. There have been times when I was incapacitated with asthma, and John took up the slack. Other years he traveled overseas for weeks at a time and I carried the brunt of childcare. What I have finally remembered to remember is that if I begin to feel self righteous about my competence, I can expect to be leaning on him in about ten minutes. 
 
The two eyes make one sight, the two ears one hearing, the two nostrils one smell, the two lips one speech, the two hands one labor, the two feet one walking, the two hemispheres of the brain one dwelling place of the mind, the two chambers of the heart one life of the body by means of the blood, the two lobes of the lungs one breath. But the masculine and feminine when united in love truly conjugial make one life completely human.
  Emanuel Swedenborg, Conjugial Love 316